Monday 24 September 2012

Slime Trails

Nigel Ayers’ "Slime Trails" records two terrestrial gastropods, active just after rain. The camera casts a relentlessly flawed eye over the scene, which is so botched, off-centre and fragmented that subjects the gastropods to its unblinking stare, leaving them stripped bare on more levels than mere physical nudity and without a full-sized shell. Slugs produce two types of mucus: one which is thin and watery, and another which is thick and sticky, adding a whole new tactile dimension to the camera’s way of looking. Beyond the bodies made up mostly of water, the scene is so relentless and obstinate that the slime trail is turned back on the viewer, who thus becomes the decomposer, chewing up leaves, feces, and other detritus and helping to recycle the nutrients back into the soil. Examining the relationship between ecosystem services and biodiversity as a formal surrogacy relationship facilitates a more analytical examination and brings the issues into sharper relief. The slugs subtly deconstruct the conventional system of the male gaze in conditions and processes, through self-portrayal and seduction strategies which sustain and replenish soil fertility.