Battersea Power Station

Though utterly inseparable, materiality and interpretation arguably inhabit different places in a hierarchy of thought. Ideas are often understood as lofty, immaterial and clean, while raw matter is seen as base, a puzzle to be arranged into something of meaning and rise above its chaotic state as materia prima. Ruth Smith is interested in this particular act of creation ex materia, and the relationship of humans to the materials they manipulate. There is a sense of intrigue in the agency of materials in this relationship and a wonder at their steady objectiveness, a thing that in many ways rises above interpretation. This objective materiality, therefore, is deeply unknowable as any understanding necessarily becomes interpretation arising from frameworks of human value systems. In this way, materials have the final word, whilst saying nothing at all.