Thermo = Relating to kinetic energy/heat
Medolox = Fictitious corporate identity
The series, “Thermo-Medolox,” derives its thematic title from one of its featured large paintings, “Thermo-Medolox.” Originally, I had chosen the title “Shifts of Power,” but I felt it might be overly broad and laden with metaphorical interpretations. Instead, “Thermo-Medolox” (TM) was selected as it effectively encapsulated the essence of this body of work:
- Thermo: This component, inspired by terms such as “thermal” and “thermo-nuclear,” embodies kinetic energy and the generation of heat.
- Medolox: A symbolic reference to fictional multi-national corporate identities, extending to a range of associated industrial, pharmaceutical, military, and energy-related products and processes.
These works also carry sub-narrative references touching on subjects such as the preservation of human biological life through technology, the use of wild animals as corporate symbols, and the destruction of the natural environment due to human industrial activities.
The title painting, “Thermo-Medolox,” features two prominent symbols juxtaposed on either side of a diptych: a colossal pill and a stylized ‘T’ shaped fictitious corporate logo, representing ‘Thermo-Medolox.’ Initially conceived as a pseudo-billboard image advertising the company’s industrial products, the work gradually evolved in a different visual direction, becoming more abstract and enigmatic. The pill, a recurring motif in my work, symbolizes a process or agent of anesthesia, representing a form of control, both biologically and psychologically. Below the corporate logo, the background is treated more abstractly, featuring a combination of intersecting broad red geometric lines, nearly masking the presence of missile and bomb weapons in a strong diagonal axis. These lines signify both a structural network and a stylistic homage to dynamic Russian constructivist compositions, characterized by their powerful geometric and diagonal visual elements. I have always believed that Russian constructivist propaganda art, while significant and original, conveyed a utopian and ultimately incongruous sense of enthusiasm when contrasted with the ensuing dictatorial communist dystopia.
Integrated into the painting is a sculptural vinyl bag holding a transparent plastic container filled with freeze-pack solution, symbolizing the preservation of human biological life and the technological apparatus sustaining it. This work, in many ways, serves as a critique of our technologically corporatized culture, reflecting a dystopian reality.
In “True North,” I employ a sculptural device featuring a metallic cutout of a deer (or caribou), inspired by the Canadian 25-cent silver coin. Placed in front of an apocalyptic landscape scene in the background, this composition creates a tension between the natural order and the artificially created, transformed environment shaped by human intervention. Corporations often use wild animals in their logos and advertising to symbolize power and mystery, readily appropriating symbols from the occult and ancient mythology. Their intent is to empower the corporation by using or misusing esoteric symbolism, signs, and mythology. The background scene portrays a chemical container floating in an ambiguous apocalyptic landscape, transitioning from conifer trees to flames, accompanied by an enigmatic chemical sign. In essence, it conveys a scorched, devastated, and contaminated world. “True North” also underscores the violent war waged on nature by a technological culture, culminating in the appropriation and co-opting of the noble symbol of the deer as a form of corporate branding. This constitutes a sacrilegious act, desecrating and diminishing a once sacred symbol that embodies an eternal natural order.
Upon reflection, the main theme explored in this series centers on our technological culture’s obsession with waging war on nature, and
by extension, life in general. At its core, it resembles a military-style economy with subordinate industrial sub-economies, where our primary economic activities are engrossed in designing services and products that generate human and industrial waste, contributing to environmental stress, destruction, and irreparable harm to the biosphere. This results in an unsettling feedback loop of consumer products and waste by-products, negatively impacting our mental and physical well-being, often leading to the idea that there is a pill for every ill. The noble exterior of the eco-environmental-green movements has, paradoxically, been co-opted by corporate and state interests. In metaphorical terms, one might be reminded of the film ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’ Future generations, including our own children, may well reproach us for centuries to come.
Pierre Duranleau aka Cafargo – February, 2011