SIDEREAL SILENCE

(Sidereal: /saɪˈdɪɹi.əl/ of or with respect to the distant stars. Determined by the stars.)

supported by: U.S. National Endowment for the Arts (Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery / Aronoff Center for the Arts), Cill Rialaig Project, Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation, Boulder Creek Residency, SiTE:Lab, Jennifer Davenpost (Dinsmore & Shohl LLP), Elizabeth A. Stone, Barbara & Gates Moss, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stegman | special thanks: Mark Scherer

During an installation for ArtPrize 2011, I visited a Grand Rapids gypsum mine to collect materials. I was with a curatorial group, students, and videographers. Despite their presence, I experienced instances of total subterranean silence and darkness and an accompanying fear and awe of the unknown. I certainly could not comprehend the enormity of my proximity to deep time embodied in this gypsum, formed 350 million years ago, or the inherent entity of the void—a sidereal darkness and silence.

In summer 2012 I worked in the Pacific Northwest wilderness collecting sounds from nature. Walking the canyon ridge, I listened at once to multiple waterfalls, experiencing their merging sounds as the most powerful symphony I'd ever heard. Through daily pilgrimages to two waterfalls, I discovered that, at certain moments of the day, rainbows would appear. The majestic sound and the accompanying rainbows’ ghostly manifestation acquired a sentient presence, a stillness, which I could not fully comprehend, but rather sensed, as elusive and immediate as a lingering scent. I was no longer listening, but experiencing instead the eternal flow of life.

These occurrences and others experienced in research trips to Switzerland’s glacial waterfalls deep inside mountains became the direct inspiration and spine of Sidereal Silence. I found in these immersive and repetitive sounds of coursing water what began to emerge as musical chords, and culminated in Sidereal Silence I: Hydraulis, E Minor. This same dynamic energy of water inspired the earliest hydraulis or organ, attributed to the 3rd century BC Hellenistic engineer Ctesibius of Alexandria, which used waterfalls to drive the organ’s pipes.

Through Sidereal Silence, I want to bring this sentient presence, the stillness, to viewers. I see myself as a witness, or, as Paul Klee wrote, the "medium" or bridge between the universe and viewers, where personal experience transforms into universal, encouraging viewers to linger in the moment and to experience themselves inside deep time. The Greek root for the word "beauty" is related to the word for calling. As an artist I am bound to continue calling that elusive stillness in this world of tumult.

Cincinnati, OH, 2016


Sidereal Silence: waterfall I | 2016 | archival digital print (from pinhole paper negative), acylic face mount | 170 x 122 cm (private collection)