Nicole de Mestre

What lies beneath, 2017

Recycled fan guards, cable ties
Dimensions variable

Nicole de Mestre

Image: Keith Maxwell

The oldest rocks in the Blue Mountains are formed from the calcified skeletons of countless tiny single-celled algae, deposited on ancient seabeds millions of years ago. The microscopic remains of these organisms bear an uncanny resemblance to the discarded fan guards seen in almost every roadside pickup pile.

The ubiquitous cooling fan could be construed as an ironic take on global warming. We use fans to maintain pleasant short-term temperatures in our immediate surroundings, while at the same time we are contributing to higher long-term global temperatures through depletion of our planet’s resources.

Curiously, the first rotary fan was developed for use in mine ventilation. Mining started in the Blue Mountains around 150 years
ago, with the Scenic Railway originally part of a network of tramlines built to bring coal and kerosene shale up from mines to the main railway.

Fan guards exist to shield against injury, yet they offer no protection against consumerism, mass production
or the mining process, all of which contribute to climate change and environmental damage. Shamefully, all these mass-produced, inexpensive, throwaway fans are destined for landfill…adding to the ever-increasing layers that lie beneath us.