Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

The Satanic Formula (after Senanayake)
  • Heather Ackroyd, artist
    born 1959
    born: Huddersfield, England, United Kingdom
    Dan Harvey, artist
    born 1959
    born: Dorking, England, United Kingdom
  • The Satanic Formula (after Senanayake), 2018
  • Where object was made: United States
  • seedling grass, ball clay, photosynthetic stencil
  • Not on display
  • IA2018.003
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World", 27-Mar-2018
Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey have produced many provocative works concerning the natural world, focusing specifically on the role of plants in sustaining life on Earth. Recently, the duo has also been working with the text “The Satanic Formula” by Dr. Ranil Senanayake that expresses the rise of greenhouse gasses at the expense of oxygen due to human activity. The title comes from William Blake’s reference to the “dark satanic mills” of the early Industrial Revolution, and therefore to the inception of human activity that has led to the climate crisis.

“Simply, it states that burning fossil Hydrogen and fossil Carbon (Oil, Gas, Coal) using biologically created Oxygen, creates ‘new’ Carbon Dioxide and ‘new’ water vapor that never existed in the atmosphere before. These ‘new’ gaseous inputs into the atmosphere accelerate the current trends of rampant global warming and climate change. But there is another feature about this formula that really makes it sinister and that is the fact the global Oxygen concentration is falling and the only thing that keeps the global concentration levels up is photosynthesis by leaves and plankton.”
—Ranil Senanayake, 2017