Prehistoric dice

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The bee in our bonnet is a bunny. We are hell-bent to procreate. My artwork PREHISTORIC DICE I was launched in the Cradle of Humankind where the human race supposedly originated. The work looks at the probability factor in the way our species (and all other ones for that matter) proliferate and how many come to an end. It seems likely that chances are reasonable for us to turn out the way we did in view of our own massive and enduring producing of offspring. But one has to weigh this up against the fact that of all the species that ever existed on earth, only a fraction of 1% are left today. All other 99.9% are extinct! In further view of the fact that our species makes out only a small percentage of this surviving small percentage, I’d say we’re extremely lucky to be around so late in the day. Furthermore, what are the chances of quadripedal creatures becoming bipedal in the ancient forests of the Witwatersrand? What is the mix of circumstances that makes us omnivorous, bimanal and with an orthognathic aspect of appearance when compared to other primates? It appears that we have to throw the dice endlessly before we can come up with such a vast number of consequetive sixes as are needed to become what we have become.

My dice are symbolic of our chances in the chaos of the universe. The proverbial dice that apparently decide the outcome of impossibile evolutionary wonders are older than the big bang and they are moulded by the pressures of time as experienced in an instant to pressures of immeasurable time. If these ‘dice’ were real, they would buckle and distort under the weight of such ‘accountability’.

It is said the universe, and therefore the world and all that is on it, from beginning to end, is the interaction of three factors: matter, time and chance.

At face value, the laws of physics are not governed by chance. In science everything appears to be exact. The proper combination of hydrogen and oxygen is always water. Hot air always rises to create rain and oil floats on water.

Thales of Miletus, the oldest philosopher in the Greek tradition believed water to be the first principle on earth. Everything came about because of water. He might very well be right if we talk about the emergence of life. Life might or might not have existed on Mars because of the presence or absence of water on it. Water on Mars might indicate life on Mars.

The role of hot and cold water is elaborated by scientists in their discourse on the materialization of a primitive, cellular life on earth. We know that the earth was very hot a few billion years ago. All granite was at first liquid and poisonous gases abounded. Through time igneous rocks solidified and things systematically cooled down to a habitable level. In PREHISTORIC DICE I polish the granite of the three oblong dice shapes to once more resemble the liquid rock it had been in pre-history. The random occurrence of matter in all its different forms and the many interactions of such matter in the cradle of everlasting time are what tweaked us into what and whom we are – matter time and chance. What concerns us is the interfacing of so much stuff over such a long, long time by endless throws of the dice. Issues like the ‘relative positions of the stars in the sky’ and ‘harm to a single strand of hair on our heads’, all appear to be at the mercy of endless twists of fate and I wish to honour these Fates by making a small monument in their memory.

Time appears like a riddle to us, an inscrutable mystery. It leaves us with puzzles and paradoxes. Thus we ask, From whence did time originate? The big bang hypothesis, which, though popular, is fraught with mathematical problems solved by invoking hypothetical entities, has no explanatory power to tell us how the space-time continuum could come into existence from nothing, by blind random processes. All the laws of our physics are said to break down at the “quantum singularity.”


Nirox | After the rainbow nation | 2013 | A selection of South African Artists featured in the Sculpture Garden at the Nirox foundation | Video


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