PORTION OF THE SURFACE NEVER SEEN
Exhibition dates 17 June - 4 July
Opening Night | Thursday 18 June 6-8pm
Artist Talk I Saturday 27 June 2.30pm
Portion of the Surface Never Seen uses the language of geometry and sculpture to contemplate the relationship of photography to the world we see and the world we don’t. Cast shadows and reflected light, illusion and reality clash in order to explore the connection between the unseen spaces of our imaginations and the equally allusive space of the photograph. Does the photograph reveal or conceal as it converts our four-dimensional world to a two-dimensional image?
IMAGES | Colleen Boyle, The Melencolia Project, 2015, printed aluminium composite board and stainless steel hinging. Dimensions variable.| Images courtesy of the artist.
PORTION OF THE SURFACE NEVER SEEN
In 1507, Dürer purchased a copy of the works of Euclid, the mathematician of Greek antiquity who devised the postulates that defined the nature of geometry for centuries. Geometry is space in the abstract, a system of describing the world that became extremely useful once linked to mathematics. Dürer’s interest in geometry encompassed the construction of polyhedral ‘nets’, which are the two-dimensional diagrammatic form of a three-dimensional geometric solid. In his own publication on geometry, Four Books on Measurement (1525), Dürer illustrated the planar forms of various Platonic and Archimedean solids. However, he had made earlier explorations of such solids in his artistic work, one prevalent example being the enduringly intriguing form in the engraving Melancholia (or, as he spells it: Melencolia) of 1514.
Even today, mathematicians and geometers cannot quite work out the details of ‘Dürer’s Solid’, as it is now known, but believe it to be some kind of truncated rhombohedron. The fact that the details of this form remain obscure indicate that this is a solid of Dürer’s imagination and not one that can be readily identified in reality. Like Dürer, my imagination became intrigued with the relationship between two-dimensional polyhedral nets and three-dimensional form. But, unlike Dürer, I had the opportunity to then apply this relationship to photography and the way in which it renders reality. Through this exploration, I began to understand that my imagination works in conjunction with a photograph just as it does with a polyhedral net: moving from an abstracted description of an object to a discreet reality. This is absolutely the case when it comes to how we ‘know’ the unseen reaches of outer-space – our imagination works with images.
Although mankind may have walked on the Moon, for the majority of us our nearest natural satellite remains an alien neighbour and distant friend. Prior to the Apollo 11 Moon landings in 1969, NASA sought to study the lunar surface by sending unmanned probes to take photographs that were then transmitted back to Earth, line by scanned line. My personal knowledge of the Moon has been developed over many years of exposure to both the Moon itself and its diverse representations. Each new image I encounter adds to my internal view of the Moon, enriching it with yet another layer of information inherently different from, but complimentary to, what was already established. My mind takes representations, in this case NASA’s photographs, and connects them to make a new, complex idea. Each time I look up at the Moon, I connect with this complex idea, or schema, and I do so via my imagination.
Unless I use my imagination, my visual perception is restricted: by space, time and physics. For example, even my domestic digital camera, as it ‘looks’ at the Moon, can only give me a blob in the sky, but if I use my imagination I can construct a hybrid Moon: bringing together its visible and invisible features, its reality and fiction. I use my imagination to fill in the blind spots, the gaps in representation and experience. In accordance with Hume’s postulates on the imagination, as the viewer experiences The Melencolia Project and attempts to relate to the presented lunar images and geometric form, the name ‘Moon’ is being applied to a group of individual ideas “that are different in many respects from that idea which is immediately present to the mind”. What is present to the mind, via immediate sense impression, is an assemblage of images and form, but in the imagination they relate, as a whole, back to that schema of the Moon which I already hold and which is perpetually built upon. In this way, the only place in which we see the ‘real’ Moon is in that unseen and yet indispensible portion of our minds: our imaginations.
- COLLEEN BOYLE