Petrified Times


Petrified Times, 2019, installation view at Art Omi Open Studios, newspaper, glue, dimensions variable


Petrified Times examines the theme of the current media culture its fast and fleeing news cycles in relationship to the long cycles in nature. It visualizes the physical mass of information, and narratives, and considers its impact on reshaping the environment in both symbolic and physical ways.

The project materializes in a series of sculptural objects taking the forms of tree stumps and rings made of New York Times newspapers, collected for the period of one year. Each stump is laminated together only from the newspaper of one section such as sports, politics, and arts. The individual pieces’ variation in sizes depends on the intensity of the media attention to the specific theme. We roll and glue the individual newspaper pages together to transform the layers of text and photographs into annual rings with an organic wood-like appearance recalling the very source of the material from which the paper was made – the trees.

The Petrified Times installation consists of stumps from the different sections placed together on the floor, as they would be in the forest, allowing viewers to walk between them. It functions as a metaphor for a clearing in the forest of information, offering a place to contemplate the environmental context of our media reality. The scientific cabinet displays various cuttings and rings from the process of making, using the newspaper headlines as signage, dissecting the anatomy of the news.

Petrified Times considers the different perceptions of time in the culture and in nature, comparing the short-lived media affairs, an urgency of breaking news, temporary trends, and scandals with the slower and longstanding cycles in nature represented by the growth of the trees. It reduces and transforms the volume of information into a physical mass, while symbolically muting the content to a silent vibration. The project is a metaphor for the relativity and ephemerality of our affairs in time materializing our alienation from the environment.

Petrified Times is part of a larger body of work in which Mildes develop projects based on the idea of archives, collections, and categorization of information to inquire into the culture of disposal and environmental disconnection.