Substance – A whole history of hollows and reliefs

Phil Coy 2017

Substance – A whole history of hollows and reliefs explores the materials and processes that enable us to image the earth’s surface, and reveals the scars that the extraction of these materials have left. The work focuses particularly on the mining and refining of copper, the process of photolithography used in the production of silicon chips, and the CCD (charge-coupled device) sensors found in most digital and satellite cameras.

It takes the form of a dymaxion world projection onto photo-etched copper plates – a dymaxion map being a 2D representation of the world with its form heavily interrupted in order to preserve shapes and sizes. Alongside, a Virtual Reality (VR) environment invites visitors on a shifting journey between these hollowed-out landscapes and the super computers at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. In so doing the work offers the viewer an experience where both the medium and subject of observation merge.

Courtesy of the artist. Supported by Leverhulme Trust, Invisible Dust, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL Space) and using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. This was the premiere of the work.


VR headset; 360º video with binaural sound, 7 mins; photo-etched copper plates; computer; VR enclosure with copper, brazed steel and copper ore. Dimensions variable


The New Observatory
June 2017 – October 2017 at FACT, Liverpool

Data Types

Commercial, Environmental, Object

About the Artist

Phil Coy is an artist working across a range of media, collaging concepts rooted in the radical art and literature of the 20th century, with languages and architectures of contemporary global commerce. In 2000, he began…
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