Self-Portrait I (Palm and Mars), digital print, 8" x 30", 2018.
(Right image of Kasei Valles and Sacra Fossae on Mars courtesy of ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum), CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
In researching the planet Mars, I was struck by the similarities between its surface and the landscape of my own palm. The patterns recalled the Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio, which are prevalent across all levels of physical existence, from our innermost structures to the colossal galaxies of the universe, potentially labelling these concepts as the measures of divine aesthetics. In comparing the two images, the surface of Mars began to seem less foreign than I previously perceived it to be, as though the celestial realm may not be entirely separate from us, and that the stars may be our very distant cousins. Simultaneously, I began to question: How familiar was I with my own surface? What did I know of the assembly of individual cells making up my body, which outnumber the human population of Earth by a factor of close to 10,000? The palm of my own hand was revealed to be just as undiscovered as the surface of Mars.
Having long been a source of speculation, Mars has become a symbol both of humanity’s future and its past. Some theorize that we may have once inhabited Mars, or that we are descended from Martian life that contaminated our planet. It is even more often assumed to be the next planet that humanity will colonize. The potential role of Mars in our future, and the mystical aura surrounding the planet’s past is alluded to in Self-Portrait through the reference of palmistry. The palm is read and reveals our future on Mars. Though the work may be interpreted as having an element of science fiction, sci-fi is often a precursor to science fact. At the time of writing this, SpaceX successfully launched a Tesla Roadster towards Mars, potentially ushering in a new age of space exploration and bringing closer the possibility of visiting the red planet: of making the foreign – familiar.
Self-Portrait II (Fingernail and Nebula), digital print, 8" x 24", 2018.
(Right image credit: Focal Pointe Observatory/B.Franke, NASA/CXC/MSFC/D.Swartz et al, DSS, SARA)
In this next print, I wanted to zoom in even more on the hand, and zoom out of the planet, to see if I would find similar relationships between the astronomical and the microscopic, between the bodily and the celestial. The image on the left presents a clipping of my fingernail photographed at 200 times magnification by an electron microscope, while the image on the right depicts the remnants of a supernova 5,000 light years from Earth called IC 443, or the Jellyfish Nebula. Upon magnification, the labyrinthine structure of the sliver of bodily tissue showed the intricate intelligence of the body weaving its sinewy strands into the fabric of our existence. In looking through a lens at my own microscopic landscapes, I found that the more closely I zoomed in on the body, the more immeasurable and expansive it was revealed to be, until it began to take on some of the otherworldliness that we normally associate with the cosmic, and not with ourselves.