Electronic Garden/Slow Burn, 2021. Defunct electronic parts, electrical and audio wire, petrified wood, cassiterite, bauxite, chalcopyrite, sphaelerite, and cut log, dimensions variable. Photo: Courtesy the artist

Object Lessons: Sandra Eula Lee

Change is constant—everything in the material world is always in flux. Living in different cultures, I’ve observed how materials and objects cycle through everyday space in different ways and at different speeds. What can they communicate about the conditions we’ve created? In Electronic Garden/Slow Burn, I compressed defunct electronics, wires, and building materials with the geological minerals used to make them, trying to capture different states at once. I want to unhinge and reframe these materials beyond the limits of use value. I point to material histories, uses, and effects on the body, but at the same time, I don’t foreground only those aspects; too much emphasis would overshadow the poetics
of these combinations and collisions.

The two pieces were made together, but there’s a continuum. A lot of my work involves installing it in new formations, and I’m always editing, trying to discover something more elemental. I’m searching for a meeting ground between different realities, sensations, and speeds of change—processing that into form. The binding is the human gesture, a means of reconciling and understanding things we want to see as oppositions. In these hybrids, process reveals more than a fixed, final state. Even though the elements are very specific and I spent a lot of time collecting and choosing them, the wrapping had to be improvisational—it’s the poetics of navigating day to day through this slow burn; and it had to be
a little more aggressive to smash the parts into a newly embodied whole.