Our Glassy Essence - Heat Death
But man, proud man,
Dress'd in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd—
His glassy essence—like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.
Humankind confronts the results of its own inaction with regard to decades of scientific evidence of climatic risk. One explanatory cause may be – to reference Isabella’s speech from Act 2 of Measure for Measure - our human capacity to make false inferences and our resistance to change in the face of contrary evidence. This is a human experience with which all of us struggle but in the case of worldwide environmental threats the consequences of so doing are profound.
In this project, I have kept in mind Isabella’s words and have attempted to address the fallibility of human perception and considered measures to counter it. With these images I have asked, how can we disrupt belief in order to stimulate a different framework of action? These images constitute an (imagined) extreme consequence of global heating.
Their common, if hyperbolic title, Heat Death, suggests the terminal state of a possible world. (In fact, it’s a mainstream concept among physicists.) In considering heat death we might be drawn back to the consideration of our fragile planet. Looking deeply into this imagined future we may therefore disrupt our ‘most assur’d’ complacency to more effectively address the troubles of the present.
Technical note. These cameraless lumen prints were exposed to sunlight, for often a day or more, through a hemispheric glass lens mounted directly above black & white photographic ortho film; some had additional wood-ash sprinkled onto the emulsion. These negatives were processed in non-toxic caffenol developer and digitally scanned and outputted as archival giclée prints. While the resulting images respond to ambient light conditions, the contained spherical imagery raises the question of whether they have captured representational reality or something else. These images capture light across time, what we might refer to as ‘stretched temporality’.
- gina glover
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