Saturday, February 23, 2013

SNAKES EATING THEIR OWN TAILS

 Cosmic Address Oil on linen 90 x 180 cm

OUROBOROS HISTORY
The age-old transcultural/religious symbol of the snake [or dragon, lizard] eating its own tail is called the ouroboros. From ancient Egypt to the present day, across not only time, but cultures and religions, the image of a snake consuming its own tail, constantly renewing itself, has symbolised life and the Universe. With each era and culture, ouroboros stories and visual representations have 'spoken' meaningfully to people in the context of their social, religious, scientific and cultural milieus...their cosmology.

CONTEMPORARY COSMOLOGICAL OUROBOROS
Contemporary signification of the ourobors as a meaningful symbol of the Universe actually comes from cosmologists, those scientists who study the Universe, its past, present and future history; its quantum and cosmic extremes.  Nobel Prize for Physics winner 1979, Prof. Sheldon Glashow first suggested the ouroborus as a visual descriptor for the relationship between the quantum and cosmic worlds. Lord Astronomer, Prof Martin Rees has also used the ouroboros for the same purpose. Plus, Prof. Joel Primack and his wife Nancy Ellen Abrams [philosopher and lawyer], also use the symbol to describe Universal scales and humanity's place within them. This article by Prof Primack explains Glashow's ouroboros and more. I highly recommend Primack and Abrams book The new Universe and The Human Future: How Shared Cosmology Could Transform The World

This article gives you a good overview of ouroboros history.

UNCANNY
What interests me is the recurring signification of the ouroboros as a visual representation of the Universe. Art historian Aby Warburg and psychologist Carl Yung, amongst others, explored the recurring nature of symbols across time and cultures. I understand why. The uncanniness excites me, and embraces me in a sense of companionship with time and all humanity. Relationship through symbolic references, which strike resonances at a core level, promise more than we can imagine. These relationships are with ourselves, others, nations...our histories and our futures...the Universe!


 Cosmic Ouroboros Oil on linen 120 x 150 cm
 

TREE-OF-LIFE AND THE OUROBOROS
Regular readers will know of my abiding interest in another age-old transcultural/religious symbol, the tree-of-life. I have been painting images, with trees-of-life, for many many years. I know the tree has a power that reaches beyond me. I know this because of the conversations I have shared with people of many religions and cultures...the tree needs no explanation, it just resonates at a seemingly core visceral level. Well...it does mirror our internal body systems!

The tree and the ouroboros have universal voices which can be heard... if we listen. Neither symbol, nor indeed other age-old symbols, succumb to fashion's insidious seduction into short term transience. Rather, they call to us from the depths of history, revealing their potency when asked...when we realise our imaginations are tired of transience. They extend their potent reach into the future as they trigger our imaginations for what might be. Their agelessness urges us to seek horizons beyond the short term, beyond the tenticles of fashion... and politics.

THE THREE PAINTINGS HERE
In all three paintings in this post I have combined the ouroboros with the tree-of-life. Yes, the snakes' bodies are trees-of-life. The snakes eat life to replenish life...symbolic of all life... 'speaking' about past, present and future...creating all dimensions...promising new horizons.

My newest painting Cosmic Address [top] suggests that an 'address' is both a place and a time. But, words such as 'place' and 'time' seem inadequate when thinking on cosmic scales. I suspect that the potency within symbols, such as the tree-of-life and the ouroboros, promises more. Are we game to expand our horizons to embrace our 'cosmic address'? Our future may depend on it!

 
Ouroboros Oil on linen 122 x 153
 
 
In 2009 Dr. Christine Dauber [PhD, B.A, B.A Honours [Art History] University of Queensland], wrote about my work. It must first be understood that Brimblecombe–Fox is not so much concerned with landscape painting per se, but in a Warburgian sense, searches for the universal connections, or common ground between people, races and religions. Thus, she uses the “tree of life” or “tree of knowledge” as a repetitive motif and in so doing, deploys its spiritual associations as a global referent.
 
Cheers,
Kathryn

Sunday, February 17, 2013

MULTIVERSE POSSIBILITIES

 
 
 Brian Greene, PhD, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and  author, spoke with Amir D. Aczel at the Museum of Science on March 2, 2011.


Today I watched and listened to the video above. It is fantastically interesting. Prof. Brian Greene is interviewed by science writer Amir D Aczel about various theories for the existence of other universes. That we might exist in a multiverse takes wonderment beyond traditional horizons!

The two men have animated discussions about mathematics and physics, experimentation and observation. Prof. Greene has a marvelous way of explaining ideas very simply...using cups of water, analogies of all kinds including... sliced bread. Imagination plays its role in visioning the multiverse!

In December 2010 I wrote about a painting I had just completed. The painting is called Multiverse.To read this previous post please click HERE

Multiverse Oil on linen 80 x 100 cm 2010
 
 
Amongst other issues, Prof. Greene and Amir Aczel discussed what an infinite universe/multiverse might be...how far would it/they extend. Discussions about infinity are always interesting and can boggle the mind somewhat. No matter where one might be in the universe/multiverse the distances of time and space, are infinite. Thinking about infinity in one universe certainly stretches the imagination, let alone infinity in a multiverse!
 
I recommend you listen to the video!
 
 
Infinity Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm
 
 
I am nearly finished a large painting. I will photograph it in the next few days and write a post for it. It's another ouroboros painting. Well... it is the Year of the Snake!
 
Cheers,
Kathryn


Monday, February 11, 2013

HORIZONS: ALL KINDS!

 COSMOLOGY Exhibition

ADELAIDE

I have been away for nearly a week. Firstly I went to Adelaide to attend a White Paper presentation and delivery. And why and what for you might ask? Well, my eldest daughter completed a five week intensive interdisciplinary program 'The International Space University Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Program' hosted by the University of South Australia... and the culmination of this amazing five weeks was the delivery of a White Paper called Common Horizons. You can find links to the White Paper and Executive Summary HERE 

Essentially the White Paper Common Horizons presents issues pertaining to our use of space  and makes proposals for the sustainability of space. The proposals are based on a global south perspective, but with a collaborative imperative for the world. The 1.5 hour presentation was fantastic! I got lots of inspiration, so over the next few months you will see paintings dealing with all sorts of things from space debris, to more of my visual explorations of humanity's place within the Universe.

About 40 people, from all around the world, attended the course [undergrads, graduates, PhD students, people working in space related industries]. They came from mainly science, technology or engineering backgrounds...with my daughter the only humanities/law student. Yes! The course is really interdisciplinary, with around 25% being legal and policy issues. The list of subjects and topics ranged from the technical, scientific, to the philosphical. The lecturers came from all around the world too.

After the presentation I spoke to a number of the participants and they, including my daughter, did not want the course to end. My impression is that they participated in a truly life changing, inspiring, exemplary example of what an educational experience should be. If only this was more common!

Here are some more links for you:
International Space University[ISU] LINK
Univeristy of South Australia LINK
The ISU Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Programme Facebook Page
Common Horizons BLOG

COSMOLOGY Exhibition  
Cosmic Auroboros is the most visited post on my BLOG!
 
 
MELBOURNE
 
COSMOLOGY
 
After spending 4 great days in Adelaide [I had never been there before] I flew to Melbourne to see my exhibition COSMOLOGY and to attend the opening on Saturday 9th February. When I walked into Purgatory Artspace I was delighted with how the exhibition looked. Emma, from Purgatory Artspace, had done a great job hanging the paintings. I was really happy with the number of people who came along to the opening, plus their reactions. The show has another week with its last day Saturday 16 February. Doors close at 5pm. 170 Abbottsford St, Nth Melbourne PH: 61 3 9329 1860
 
Check out my COSMOLOGY page with more details
 
INSPIRATION
 
For an artist it is really great to see paintings hanging together as a group. It is difficult in the studio or at home to get a really good impression of how paintings might look when grouped and hung together. An exhibition is like a space, or a hyphen, in a sentence. It gives a moment of reflection, a chance to breath...a pause...an opportunity to view new paths, perspectives and inspirations. 
 
So you can imagine how I was feeling on Friday and Saturday, especially after attending the White Paper Common Horizons delivery in Adelaide...I had so much swirling through my head! On top of this, in the week before I left on my travels, I had received my ordered copy of Prof. Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams new book THE NEW UNIVERSE AND THE HUMAN FUTURE: :How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World 
 
I had started reading the book, which is based on their Yale University series of Terry Lecture presentations, in Adelaide. WOW! So much synchronicity...with the ISU Space Pragram, the Common Horizons White Paper and the pictures I could see in my head!

COSMOLOGY Exhibition


HORIZONS
 
As mentioned above the 'ISU Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Program' White Paper is called Common Horizons
 
I really resonnated with the word horizons. As regular readers know I often write about horizons and perspective. Using landscape elements as metaphors reminds us that 'landscape' is so much more than what is in front of us. It is more than a representation, whether realistic or not, of Earth bound scenery. If everything in the Universe, includng us, is stardust...then 'landscape', and all its elements, is everywhere. We humans are literally 'landscape' as we live within a multi perspectival [not sure if this word even exists!] environment that is not just Earth!
 
The use of the plural for horizon is also interesting, for indeed, in the contemporary world where cosmological studies are revealing more and more about the Universe, it is important to develop skills in 'seeing' more than one perspective...indeed as I have previously suggested, and what I try to stir in my work, is the idea of 'seeing' multi-perspectives...even simultaneously.
 
Here's a selection of a few related previous posts:
 
COSMOLOGY Exhibition
 
Cheers,
Kathryn

Sunday, February 03, 2013

RETURN OR ARRIVAL?

Returning Oil on linen 50 x 94 cm 2012
 
Returning is in my current exhibition COSMOLOGY There are 9 paintings in the exhibition, so its not a large show, but it embraces a massive cosmological story! Just how massive depends on your imagination. Hopefully, I will have photos of the exhibition soon.

My painting above, Returning, references many types of returning, from the prosaic to the poetic; from here, there and everywhere; from the past, present and future. Yep, it's complex!

The 2.30 min video below All Alone in the Night - Time-lapse footage of the Earth as seen from the ISS made me think about returning. The astronauts who stay and work on the International Space Station experience a 'return' that is rare. For six months or more they get to see Earth from a perspective that must stir awe and appreciation. What do they think about once they return to Earth? Do they actually 'return' to the place they left months before, or do they 'return' with new insights that make Earth seem so different... that rather than returning...they arrive?


 

I imagine that the perspective gained from space must make Earth seem both special... and not special. The former because it would seem blatantly obvious that, for now and the foreseeable future, we humans have one home...which we all share. So, Earth is special to us. The not so special status would be that Earth is just but one of many billions of celestial bodies in a seemingly endless Universe.

Perspective makes you think!

I recently wrote about my painting below Ad Infinitum, which is also in COSMOLOGY:
We know that human life started but a blip ago, when compared with the history of the universe. Yet, all of existence could come under the title of life....couldn't it? I suspect that the majority of human beings believe that human existence... here manifested in us thinking, breathing, bipeds...will continue ad infinitum. It's a tad scary to think otherwise! But, it depends in what form the ad finitum existence takes.

Ad Infinitum Oil on linen 50 x 50 cm
 
 
 
COSMOLOGY
 
Purgatory Artspace
Melbourne
 
Private Viewing Saturday 9th February 2-4pm
For all the details click HERE



Another painting in COSMOLOGY is Cosmic Auroboros  I wrote my BLOG post about this painting in November 2012 and it has very quickly become the most visited post on my BLOG!

Cheers,
Kathryn
www.kathrynbrimblecombe-fox.com