A MiddLab Project


A sampling of my independent work created during the 2011-2012 academic year with the Studio Art department.

Special thanks to Jim Butler, Hedya Klein, John Huddleston, Sanford Mirling and Rebecca Gooch. Thank you to my friends and family for lending an ear and eye when I needed them most. Art is meant to be a dialogue, and one should not converse alone.



Illumination (n.) : lighting or light; spiritual or intellectual enlightenment.
Luminous (adj.) : glowing with health, vigor or a particular emotion.
Light is the ultimate source of life for our planet. Without it, many things cease to exist. Its necessity influences what we eat, how we live, and where we dwell. My work this year would not exist without careful consideration and appreciation of light. My goal was to bring a new sense of life to an existing space through displacement and habitation. In my work, the “life” only exists with the facilitation of light, but with the flip of a switch, it is gone. How does a sense of place, space or environment evoke feelings of illumination (outward, giving and free) versus luminance (self-contained and captured)? Life is governed both by the self and its environment. If we lose our light, do we lose ourselves?



My work in sculpture and installation aims to create a space in which the audience, who usually identify as the surveyed, takes on the role of the surveyor and the performer. My pop-up hijacking of institutional spaces and bureaucratic processes gradually degenerates as it reaches its structural and participatory limit.

Michel Foucault recognizes the exemplary prison model of the Panopticon and developed his theory on the ways in which the society generates docile bodies through discipline. The Panopticon is a powerful prison model, because, regardless of the obvious physical presence and the inmates’ consciousness of the purpose of the inspection tower, the presence/absence of the observer in the tower was made unknown through a venetian blind behind the windows of the tower. In isolation and under ceaseless inspection, the prisoners of the Panopticon learned to internalize the discipline and govern themselves. The Panopticon not only prevented the prisoners from wrong-doing but also took away their wish to commit wrong, making them unable and unwilling.

Foucault expanded the prison and the prisoners of the Panopticon to the society and all its members. The docile self-governing bodies, in combination with the extensive history and knowledge the society has accumulated on its members, allow the society as a machine to achieve maximum efficiency by placing individuals as compartments within its mechanics according to their individual characters.

Various record keeping devices that obsessively bureaucratize information-gathering methods have been developed and ingrained deep within the contemporary psyche. Anonymous scribes keep filling in the charts of self-conscious, docile individuals in constant cognitive dissonance in regards to privacy and autonomy, while from the knowledge of the individuals societal power is generated.

The Letterist International declared commitment to authentic life alternative to that designed for the capitalist society and believed that the capitalist trance could be disrupted through détournement. Strategic device that appropriates the expressions of modern capitalist society and turns them against the design, détournement was proposed as a tactic in individuals’ resistance against the machine to reclaim the authentic life.




James Butler, John Huddleston, Hedya Klein (Senior Studio Advisors) / Sanford Mirling (Academic Advisor) / Karen Rauppius 12′,  Tyler Madden 12.5′ (Collaborators)



A MiddLab Project

Petrogenesis of Two New Eucrites from Northwest Africa

Learn more about Geology and Physics at Middlebury College.

Eucrite meteorites formed within the first seven million years of the start of the solar system, and are widely believed to originate from the asteroid 4 Vesta. Thus eucrites hold important insights into the geologic processes that were active on small planetary bodies, and particularly into their chemical differentiation. Two meteorites recovered in 2009 from Northwest Africa appear to be unbrecciated basaltic eucrites, and have similar mineral assemblages. The characterization of these samples by petrography, mineral chemistry, and whole-rock chemistry will help to provide an understanding of their formation, and will indicate whether they are paired. Comparisons with other eucrites described in the literature may provide additional insights into the chemical evolution of 4 Vesta.


Cameron Mercer

Ray Coish
Sponsor and Professor of Geology

Hubble image of 4 Vesta (NASA)

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