Charged Vessels & Infinite Bodies

image 01 from Charged vessels series image 02 from charged vessels series

This body of work was made between 2006 and 2010, and grew out of a fascination with lightning storm imagery and it’s associated myth. It is being shown in its entirety for the first time at St Johns Church 20-21 Visual Arts centre as part of Magnetic Atlas installation.

I was awarded a research residency at the Bakken Museum and Library of Electricity in Minneapolis, USA in 2006 and my time there was split between researching and documenting both books and artefacts.The resulting work was inspired by the archaic texts that illustrated the journey of how science evolved out of the early alchemists investigations into substances and reactions. Writings of the 15th century by such people as Maxwell (De Medicina Magnetica) and Kircher (Magnets and the Art of Magnetism) marked the beginnings of scientific investigation, but it still remained intertwined with magic, religion and mysticism. These were beautiful and very rare books with hand printed Latin text and illustrations. I was able to photograph these books, as well as read translations.
The colour transparencies of leyden jars, (invented to store the electricity generated by early electrostatic machines) vacuum flasks, and associated tools taken at the Baaken Museum are back projected onto drafting film. Combined with these are projected images of galaxies and stars, and in some images, another layer of dusty redundant spiderweb, or seed-head. The resulting images are then photographed.
In this work, the volume within the jars (which historically captured the usually invisible electric energy) is contrasted with the symbolic importance of the inner space and energies of other ’sacred’ enclosures like a temple or a theatre stage, expectant of some sort of performance. Some of the images contain forms that traditionally conduct energy/power and refer to the age-old desire to connect to the heavens reflected in symbolic, sacred sights (the Ziggurat, the Tower of Babel). This work draws together images and narratives in order to reflect the electrical impulse of the macro and microcosmic environment; to contrast these two aspects; the religious/mythical interpretations of the creation of the heavens and the planet, and the electrical creative energy and the earth itself as a fragment of this, still continually changing.
In other images, stars and galaxies are overlaid with images of Christ’s wound. Sections are taken from early northern Renaissance paintings, chosen for the artist’s photo-realist dedication to a subjective image of a mythic character. Christ’s body, according to Joseph Campbell “rather than being a physical object comes to symbolize our own psychological and metaphysical inner space.” In these images, the symbolic importance of Christ’s wound and blood are contrasted with the infinite, never still, heavens and the stars. This comparison of local and universal brings to mind certain questions; where is the ‘centre’ of the world, what and where is heaven and why does the human mind require this morphogenic field to exist.

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The Baaken Library and Museum of Electricity