I've had cause to reflect this past week on my relationship with Antarctica, remembering again how I sensed her before I saw her; how I found myself drawing her landscapes without even knowing I was doing so, conjuring up her spaces on paper only to find myself standing in them years down the track. It was as though some part of me knew we would meet long before the rest of me had even the vaguest inkling she would be written into my life's script. I do think there are times when our unconscious goes out ahead of us, scanning landscapes, embracing people, entering situations, noting features, atmospheres and coordinates so that when the time is ripe, we are ready to step into a space prepared, without our conscious self having any real awareness that this is what is happening.
When Antarctica's edges first came into view, I was standing with my face pressed up against the porthole of the Hercules airplane. My response to her was a somatic one. A surge of heat rushed through my body; I shivered at the same time. I don't know how else to describe it save to say it was like being seduced and chastened at the same time; pierced, buckled and somehow straightened. It was clear to me that uncharted parts of me were stirring, given a call to wake up and pay attention. This may sound strange and dramatic, but it wasn't. It was quiet and private and something I wasn't able to articulate till much, much later. One thing is certain -something inside me was shaken up and reconfigured on 6 October 2005.
The reason I've been thinking about these things is because this coming Thursday - 22 April (at 2.22PM) - the major collaborative piece I made with polar biologist, Dr Samuel Bowser, is being unveiled as a permanent installation in the foyer of the State Plaza building in Albany NY. Titled InterfaCE V, this work is the culmination of nearly five years' ArtScience exploration with Sam. It carries both our signatures, but rather than the work of two individuals, I see it more as a communal piece. As with most joint endeavours, it carries the energy and input of a great many more people than might at first meet the eye.
This weekend, I received the first few photographs of the mounting process... I confess I shed a tear when I saw them. You will know from previous entries on this blog that I get homesick for Antarctica. My buttons are easily pushed. Mostly, these are tears of gratitude for times, people and a place who together opened me up to 'more' and whose imprint I will always carry.
Positioning the vertical base plinth - Wadsworth Center foyer, Albany NY - April 2010
The photographs I'm posting here show the base template that will eventually hold 127 glass laboratory beakers that will in turn support 127 images (a combination of Scanning Electron Microscope imagery plus interpretative drawings)... From the front, the composition will appear to spin, perhaps even give off hints of sound. The underlying 'blueprint' is mapped out according to sacred geometry; rhythms are set up by prime numbers and phi...
Looking at it side on, people will be able to enter (metaphorically and with the eye, not the body!) the space behind the drawings to meander through the trails of a transparent labyrinth - an unexpected landscape of light and shadow that hints at worlds many of us never get to see; the universe beneath the lens of a microscope and/or the second heaven that hovers below metres and metres of heaving sea ice. The piece documents seven stages of polar biological research, with a specific focus on the motility and morphology of foraminifera. (Foraminifera are ancient uni-cellular aquatic organisms; living fossils underpin our evolutionary pyramid and that date back 650 million years). Rather than go into all the background details here, this link will take you to an explanation of the collaborative process and this one to the installation as it was first mounted at the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs in May 2008.
For many reasons, InterfaCE is a piece dear to my heart.
InterfaCE - behind the frame
My task this weekend has been to put together a 7 min introduction re; this collaborative venture. Sam will be preparing something similar. A dear friend, Jack Harris, will read on my behalf on Thursday. The Director of the center will speak for 5 mins, too, and the brief unveiling ceremony will end with a minute's silence in honour of Earth Day.
Sometimes - often - I wish our seven continents were no more than a stepping stone or three apart.
Her bones - a weekend's silence before fat, cartilage and muscles are added