Views From Expatria. Photographing Place and the Self In Transience
Series: Here There Are Lions
The series Here There Are lions involves a verifictional approach of art making, One that mixes imagination with real astronomical data and more pictorial ways of representing being in expatriation.
The series further explores the framing of expatriation into outer space, while continuing to link with concepts of transience and identity. Is there an end to being in this ‘place’ of no home? Can the last version of expatria lead to space migration? If the last version of expatria is in space do prior experiences with expatriation make expatriates eligible to be part of this scenario? Here There Are Lions maps out home and expatria as a credible futuristic possibility and addresses the aforementioned questions through practice and theory on space migration and vernacular futurology in art, science and society.
The title of my project derives from the Latin HIC SVNT LEONES “here there are lions” and the practice of ancient Roman and medieval cartographers. The phrase was used to connote unknown dangerous or unexplored lands beyond the current cartography.
Space is still an unexplored, dangerous, and unmapped territory; therefore, the title and its metaphor are intrinsic to my series. I have followed different representational motifs from ancient cartographers to illustrate a treacherous journey through uncharted space during an extra-terrestrial expatriation. My motifs are more elemental. I represent space frontiers, views of the void in space, other celestial bodies, real and fake but plausible astronomical events through shapes, colours, and light, as one would view them if travelling close by.
The conquest of space, an age-old dream for mankind is linked to modern art in the works of the Futurists and the European Avant-Garde. Visual artists have been representing space throughout the late modern period and extensively through contemporary art.
In Here There Are Lions I contribute views and renderings of the cosmos communicating my own ways of representing transience and expatriation in space. I am transposing my thoughts and experiences of expatriation onto world-end-post-apocalyptic views seemingly captured between earth and space. The works draw connections to narratives about the Space Age, expatriation, transience, and space migration, opening a discussion about the ideology that advocates the escape of humanity from the planet Earth in exchange for new habitats and solar systems.
The production of an array of practices including lens based and computational photography, light painting, and post-photography practices have materialized my views. True to my pictorialist methodology, I used the camera as a mediating tool much like early cameras obscuras or cameras lucidas. I opted for exhausting the fundamental factors of the camera (i.e. freezing of time and indexicality) by playing against the settings of the camera’s program.
One of the reasons I chose such a hybrid practice in Here There Are Lions is that space exploration and expatriation are concomitant with capturing images, as images are the raw data for much space-oriented scientific research. The problem (and the blessing for my project) is that although images from space telescopes have helped us see relatively deep into space, our gaze into the infinite remains a work in progress. Images of deep space are not press-ready after being captured by space telescopes. Each visualization is the result of artists and planetary scientists collaborating to convert blips on a data readout into something … scientifically plausible. To express this unequivocally, our gaze (apart from known locales of our solar system) into the infinite remains abstract, rather than factual.
Creating such verifictional and visually abstract works, favours my prospects of drawing connections to narratives about renewed concerns of the space age and illustrating extra-terrestrial expatriation, transience, and space migration. Migrating out of this world in search of a new home, or not, would be the ultimate dilemma for the self in transience. With this issue, I am addressing issues of selfhood as well. What type of people are expatriates? I argue here that they are most likely the people who would take on such a challenge, those who see expatriation to space as both a challenge and opportunity.