Tom Joyce: Tc (Curie Point)

TC (Curie Point), 2017
Tom Joyce (b. 1956)

Metalworking Soundscape, 2017
Tom Joyce with sound engineers, William Ogilvie & Peter Ogilvie

This multimedia installation from the exhibition Tom Joyce: Everything at Hand (July 27−December 31, 2017) suspends nearly 25,000 lbs of obsolete equipment, supplies, tools, jigs, fixtures, artifacts, working drawings, patterns, clay models, prototypes, books, knickknacks, signage and other objects that were once incorporated, made, used and/or laid to rest in the artist's studio. Each once performed indispensable tasks, but at some point during Joyce's 45 years of studio practice were taken out of service for a variety of reasons. Though the installation is not an inverted reconstruction of the artist's studio, it represents an encapsulation of a career path, from his first tools and experimental forgings as a teenager in El Rito, New Mexico, through maquettes of public art projects, drawings, and sculpture that facilitated the next generation of ideas to explore. Working with a hefty material, deeply rooted within a complex history of human use, the artist chose to express in this work a sense of daring weightlessness - tools hovering just out of reach, yet firmly anchored as symbolic still points around which a flurry of activity continues to extend his inquisitive reach.

The title, TC (Curie Point), refers to the French physical chemist, Pierre Curie's, discovery of the precise temperature iron loses its magnetic properties (770° C/1390° F). When iron is heated to this red-hot point, its symmetrically aligned and parallel atomic structure becomes erratic and disordered, affecting its magnetic field and resisting a magnet's attraction. This is also the temperature blacksmiths quench forged iron tools to harden them before tempering. When steel is cooled rapidly in water at the temperature a magnet releases its grip, atoms violently contract and realign, becoming extremely hard and brittle. In order for the tool to be usable, heat is reapplied to the hardened surface, softening it to a desired degree of toughness, giving steel the ability to hold a razor-sharp edge; to be flexible without breaking; to cut through and shape materials tougher than itself. The artist describes this Curie Point condition, "were attraction and repulsion flux, where softness and hardness converge, where creation and destruction are possible", as the uneasy comfort zone he has chosen to work inside while manipulating these materials, processes and universal concepts.

Several of Tom Joyce's sculptures can be viewed outside the Tank Garage Gallery in the CCA Sculpture Park.

This installation was generously underwritten by Ed & Maria Gale and the Gale Family Foundation.

Tom Joyce, TC (Curie Point), 2017 , Mixed media, tools, drawings, prototypes , 12 x 20 x 30 feet. 
Photograph: Daniel Barsotti