For SITE, the artist’s largest exhibition in the UK for over a decade, Mark Wallinger realised three new commissions: 1000000000000000, The Other Wall and SELF PORTRAIT (Times New Roman) in 2012. Systemising the randomness of nature, 10000000000000000 (2012) catalogues and compares 65,536 found stones. Each stone, roughly uniform in size, occupies its own square on a vastly extended checkerboard — the simplest binary device for imposing order. The huge structure makes manifest something that is essentially abstract: 10000000000000000 is the binary form of the number 65,536 in decimal, a superperfect number. Taking its form from this number, 10000000000000000 is a structure that ultimately seems only to reason with itself, albeit in perpetual order. Mark Wallinger refuses to adopt a signature style, this Turner Prize winning artist produces work that addresses his ongoing preoccupation with, in his words, “the politics of representation and the representation of politics.” He references British history, class, politics, and iconic works of art in his paintings, sculptures, videos, and installations. For example, Steine (2010) is comprised of one thousand numbered stones that covered the floor in the main room as part of the Gallery Weekend in Berlin. Immediately probing the viewer to ask, is there an order to this system? What happens when we number something? However, there is no taxonomy involved. These stones, with their inherent contrast of human labour and the monumental timescale of geology, catalyse thoughts of mortality, of catalogues of the vanished and the anonymous.
This artist turns everyday moments of life into transcendent possibilities, attempting to systematise nature, the mundane and the abstract, 10000000000000000 (2012) catalogues and compares 65,536 stones, each occupying its own square on a gargantuan checkerboard. Although I was unable to see the exhibition in the flesh through viewing the on-line exhibition I could relate with the scale, use of nature and beauty of stone for its own sake. Coming across this exhibition made me think about how to best exhibit and show my own artwork, of making known my own relationships with nature, of my own collections of natural forms and their classifications.