Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Petrification of Pierre Jardin

Pierre Jardin spends an inordinate amount of time with stones: collecting them, arranging them, photographing them, writing about them. If he had to choose one word to capture how he feels about stones, it would be absorbing.  Absorption encompasses both a material and aesthetic aspect: the taking in or soaking up of one energy or substance by another, usually gradually; and engrossing the attention.  

Pierre feels drawn by rocks; they exert a kind of pull, energetic presence, or gravitational attraction on his body and mind.  When collecting rocks, there is a moment of some initial notice, or catching of attention, by a single stone; as soon as that moment is sustained, it becomes a process of mutual absorption. The rock catches the eye and something about it absorbs us, and we absorb something of it—a material aspect, its form, or pattern of markings, texture.  This relation to stone embodies what Gaston Bachelard called the “material imagination,” which does not just look at matter but “thinks matter, dreams in it, lives in it, or, in other words, materializes the imaginary.” Bachelard stipulates that “a kind of dialectical animism” between matter and mind is required to set this imaginative work in motion.

Pierre Jardin not only animates stone in his active imaginative and physical engagement with rocks–he also is animated by stone.  He has begun to become rock-headed, stone-boned, a literal example that humans are “walking, talking minerals,” as Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky said. Ever since Pierre prioritized working in the Petriverse, he has become more peaceful, balanced, and down to earth.

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