Whether its title refers to Gallaccio’s conceptualisation, or to the mechanism bringing it into being, the work stages the harmonious collision of nature and cutting-edge machinery. The device pipes wet coils of clay according to a precise blueprint, but the nature of the material means its assembly is anything but predictable. Soft streamers drop almost at random, and piles collapse under their own weight. The process, despite being categorically automated, results in something much closer to the natural and variable formulation of the geographical phenomenon it emulates.
Where is the artist? Beautiful Minds is necessarily without author – at least, at this late stage of its iteration. Its conception was the result of Gallaccio’s collaboration with her students from UC San Diego, a reaction to the hyper-tech environment of the adjacent Silicon Valley, and a natural progression of her own practice. Gallaccio’s work has spanned the organic and the man-made, manifest interchangeably in her choices of materials and structures (a stainless-steel tree at Manchester’s Whitworth, a 3D printed Sequoia stump at Contemporary Austin later this year), throughout her career. In each case, definitions of making, artistic authority and the ‘artwork’ itself are all thrown into question.