Arsham describes himself as a ‘pseudo-archaeologist’, an academic slowly uncovering the truth of the past under the debris of the present.
The ‘future relics’ that Arsham creates are newly obsolete items from our own time, a cassette player or a polaroid camera, drawing attention to the unstoppable rate of technological advancement peculiar to the twenty-first century. Although Arsham’s preoccupation with the fragility of objects and architecture is often traced back to his experience of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, his practice’s focus on decaying artefacts is more complex than a simple concern with the ephemerality of materials. The relics are made of geological materials such as volcanic ash and crystal that are associated with growth. As a result, the works, which appear to be decaying, could also be growing, thereby collapsing past and future into one timeframe. The ambiguity of the objects’ existence is at the crux of Arsham’s practice, which endeavours to transform the viewer’s expectations by offering what he describes as ‘many potential meanings’. Through the manipulation of materials, whether casting old objects, or altering the walls of the gallery itself, Daniel Arsham challenges the physical fabric of reality.