Friday, February 25, 2011

Unbound: to hope till Hope creates

Unbound: to hope till Hope creates

New sculpture, sound and photography based on two scenes from Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial TransAntarctic Expedition


“To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory.”
Excerpt from Prometheus Unbound, by Percy Byssche Shelly

The sound piece is arranged from British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams’ (1872-1958) Sinfonia Antarctica No. 7. The loudest sections, the crescendos and torrential occurrences, and the quietest solos, the rests and repetitions, have been lifted and rearranged to create a new piece filled with either moments of chaos or of orderliness. Moments where there is hesitation, un-surety and fear and moments of calm and reassurance and possible trust. The piece begins with a drum roll, which is Endurance’s entrance into the Antarctic ice pack, the beginning of its end. There are three temperamental segments that reference the crushing of the ship’s timbers and planks, and then its final death scene. The end is quiet and features a violin echoing back onto itself: the 6 men pulling away from Elephant Island in the James Caird in order to save the entire crew. The piece ends neither sadly nor exuding hope: it is more a feeling of distance and an internal voice of a man’s weary thoughts.

Jupiter finds meaning from the title of the exhibition and Percy Byssche Shelley’s play, Prometheus Unbound. It is the story of Prometheus’ captivity and subsequent release from Jupiter’s grips (Greek: Zeus). Jupiter, now overthrown, no longer determines Prometheus’ fate. There is no reconciliation between the god and human. There is no acceptance or forgiveness. Jupiter possesses no compass for compassion or remorse: it is the Antarctic in all its non-humanness.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Reading fortunes

What does it mean to become unbound?

British Victorian society had a fascination with predicting futures, beckoning ghosts, and other unworldly and heavenly conjuring. There are documented reports and books discussing séances held to draw lost sailors and captains out from their watery tombs. Did these obsessions carry into the next era, as British explorers still became lost at the poles?

Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition (Imperial TransAntarctic Expedition) marked the end of this particular Age of Exploration. From Robert Falcon Scott's final death march to this Antarctic expedition, the era of grand voyages in the terms laid out by the technology of the day and nationalistic pride of white men journeying forth into the 'unknown' came to a known end. The gruesome reality of WW1 shook those British exploratory foundations to the bone.

The second photograph in my upcoming exhibition shows tea leaves left at the bottom of a teacup that is caught up in the undulation of a sea, tumultuous and hungry. When the fortune teller attempts to read the leaves, what message reveals itself? Is it hope or despair? Will this tiny boat be capsized and crushed or be released and infinite in its wandering? Unbound from Edwardian cast systems, unleashed from the ice, and able to set its sails and make it to land.