The Illuminated Field
Islamic Museum of Australia, 2016
Curator Jake Carter.
Andalucía is a threshold between Europe and North Africa and contains many remnants of the 700 years of Islamic occupation, evidenced in agricultural planting, irrigation systems, buildings and language. Granada, with its magnificent Alhambra palaces is in close proximity. In Islam, light—Nur—has a prized relationship to both science and spirit.(1) Islamic optics and geometry address multiplicity and unity within the notion of Divine illumination. For the artist, parallels between the site at Solucar and this larger cultural context are evident in the aesthetics and simplicity of the solar technology. Whilst the video observes the serene operation of the power station, placing this within the context of the Islamic Museum opens a deeper conversation with Islamic thought which champions environmental stewardship and the contemplation of nature, time and light as signs of the greatest context and reality.
The artwork documents the field of mirrored heliostats as they follow the sun throughout the day. The footage is edited to emphasise the sense of quiet intensity that surrounds the harvesting of light. In contrast, the water cooling towers and surrounding lakes reveal the elemental qualities at play in the broader site, some dramatic, some still. Human presence is minimal and the site appears to function remotely, its intention evident, like a heliotropic plant, through its fidelity to the sun. The use of sustained long takes induces a different form of temporal awareness in the viewing subject, opening a space of reflection and suggesting a temporality other than our own. The Illuminated Field attempts to weave the poetic and scientific thresholds and may be read as an allegory for an expanded notion of subjectivity, one that is attuned to and perceived by the largest context.
With thanks to the Islamic Museum of Australia for their generous and friendly support.
To Jake Carter for his encouragement and highest standards of excellence.
Also to Geoff Adams for technical assistance, Brian Scales, Hayden Stuart and Ben Challen.
(1) For instance see Luz Nur, Light in Islamic Art and Science, exhibition, held at the Abengoa Foundation, Seville, 2014. See http://www.focus.abengoa.es/web/en/patrimonio-art/exposiciones/nur/.