The Paul Cullen Archive (PCA) postulates a series of weather station propositions. This interactive digital project responds and speculates on a new phase of an unrealised proposal made by artist Paul Cullen in 2011 to install his r/p/m (revolutions per minute) series around the planet at sites of scientific observation. r/p/m draws on the artist’s interest in observatories, atmospheric monitoring and climatology stations.
As a form of archiving, the PCA has created a series of 3D models of artworks by Cullen and made these available for visitors to view online. Models can be scaled, rotated and virtually situated in digital representations of locations initially proposed by the artist for these works: Musick Memorial Radio Station on Naupata Reserve; Linnaeus Garden in Uppsala, Sweden; Eise Eisinga Planetarium, Franeker in the Netherlands; the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England; and the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
Cullen’s r/p/m sculptures propose but fail to perform scientific data collection and experimentation processes, utilising objects and devices in which elements are rotated or water is circulated. In Discovery of Oxygen (1996) and Recent Discoveries (1994), water is circulated by pumps or gravity between glass tanks, modified tables and waterproofed cardboard boxes, which appear like equipment or instruments for collecting, measuring or sampling. In Foxcircle (2007), Orange Theory (2007), Geographer (1995) and Moon (c. 2012), motorised, rotating globes, gherkins and a plastic orange seem to model unknown planetary paths. These works will re-engage with atmospheric circulation as 3D digital forms/artefacts.
About Paul Cullen
Paul Cullen (1949–2017) is an artist from Aotearoa New Zealand. His artwork is about the constructing and testing of relations between materials, objects and processes. Given the precarious condition of our planet today, his attention to fragile and whimsical connections between things gives his work a particular poignancy. Cullen’s early work explores links between cultural anthropology, molecular biology and archetypal architectural forms. In the 1990s, his installations started to feature dismantled and altered everyday objects, including dissected furniture and model globes or planets deployed like props for amateurish and absurdist science experiments.
In the last two decades of his career, Cullen pursued exhibitions and itinerant projects in numerous international centres including Manchester, London, Halifax, Stockholm, Sydney, Melbourne, Seoul, Chung-Buk, São Paolo, Cheongju, Alabama, Los Angeles, Marfa (Texas), Munich, Berlin and Zürich. His lexicon of objects, materials and formats continued to expand, incorporating yellow-pencil-infested furniture fragments, roof-top constructed gardens, chairs and tables pinned to ceilings by clusters of long battens, potted cacti and cast-concrete polygons, attenuated surveyors’ levelling staves and range poles, large ink drawings of 17th-century French garden motifs or scientific instruments sprinkled with classificatory letters and numbers. Later in his career as a lecturer and artist, Cullen completed a Doctor of Fine Arts (2007) at The University of Auckland.
About Paul Cullen Archive (PCA)
The PCA was established in 2017 to continue an archival process of artworks started by the artist Paul Cullen in 2016. While primarily focused on material left by Cullen in his Henderson studio in Auckland, the PCA considers that there is no work of art, however object-based, whose identity can be reduced entirely to its status as a material thing. The PCA utilises alternative archival modes to generate explorative methods and categories for structuring content, 3D models and speculative publications.
The PCA Weather Stations digital project aims to investigate how artistic authorship and narratives are formed through archival interpretation, emerging through an ecology of relationships and networks. This research will also explore how a design-led process might activate the archive to facilitate engagement, new trajectories and the archive's continuous emergence. As a site of abundance, loss and the construction of value, the archive is explored as a dynamic, fragmented and shifting body of knowledge that is contingent and unstable. The PCA aims to unsettle systems of classification and ordering and the hold these have on our understanding and interpretation of the world.