York Wilson
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Story of Oil

The Story of Oil

Imperial Oil Building, Toronto

This page contains brief descriptions of the individual sections in York Wilson's grand narrative meditation on the history of oil.

Left Panel:

Like so many stories, Wilson's narrative is meant to be read from left to right. The left panel depicts the manner in which existence of petroleum began, arising from the slow  decomposition of animal matter millions of years ago.

The "gusher" is meant to symbolize the discovery of oil. Above the gusher sits an illustration of a solar eclipse, which acts as a punctuation for the moment of discovery.

A depiction of a farm as it was at the point when mankind discovered oil.

A beam of light extends from the "punctuation" at the extreme right of the left panel, and continues onto the right panel. The beam leads to a giant hand that symbolizes man's rearrangement of molecular clusters.

The entire composition deals with man having to put oil to use.

Right Panel:

The evolution machinery is represented by hot air balloons, aircraft, and satellites.


Machinery Panel

To demonstrate the development of construction; depictions of building, arches, homes of the future with transparent walls; are drawn.

Automation by way of sound effects is represented by short, quick vertical and horizontal lines.

Architectural Panel

Pseudo instrument symbolizes the development in all of the arts as a result of more leisure time. Adjacent to these string instruments are 3-dimensional cubes through time and space representing the metaphysics in this physical world.

Along the far right of the panel are increased growth of vegetation through fertilizer.

All of this subject matter points back towards the hand as a reminder that all materials are products of oil through molecular rearrangement.

Music Panel