“Surely Many Very Early Men Just Sat Under Native Palms” (2017)
In a spaceship there is a man is orbiting around a light, a sun, some organisms. He opens and closes his eyes incessantly to remember those visions: Surely Many Very Early Men Just Sat Under Native Palms. A mnemonic device to easily learn the order of planets in the solar system and never forget it. A story, a strategy, about primitive people who Just Sat Under Native Palms always invoking these bodies of light – sun, moon, stars – to guide their days and nights. A primordial, original and luminous echo that lives in the dialogue between the artworks of Alan Bogana and Brigham Baker, a poetic return to the beginning of humanity and to a mystic dimension which accompanies mankind forever.
Natural or artificial lighting, nearby or on the horizon, has an essential and positive connotation in our culture.
Have you ever wondered whether these lights really exist? Or what is their real existence? Maybe it’s just one of those phenomena that we were given purely as a way to go insane, analyze, live. We could be just a projection and it means that when we close our eyes, everything goes dark. Now, let’s open them up and walk through these spaces, where the natural clashes with the artificial: rooms are skies.
The installation Light Polluters Lab breaks down and shows Alan Bogana’s research about holograms, exploring his personal relation with the starry sky. He stages his laboratory, composed of optical tools and sculptural autonomous elements, however connected. He reveals the creative process of holograms in his experimentation of starry nightscapes. Each element is born from his utopian and absurd will to recreate starry skies, currently obscured and distant. They exemplify the technological imaginary in which Bogana works, and underline primordial social annexed tensions. Heavenly motives of his fiftieth birthday are a personal reminder to not forget to contemplate sky and stars. This contemplation compares the human dimension with the celestial one, the desire to dream and the need to address contemporary social issues, which light pollution exemplifies. This is a logical consequence of mankind’s use/abuse of artificial light: it moves away from the starry sky and generates energy waste. A research lies between reality and improbability, organic and artifice, aleatory and rationality. Instead of summarizing his research in a series of holograms, Bogana prefers to show his creative process, moving between visible and invisible, and giving us the tools for imagination.
The excessive exposure to the outside lights of the city, especially at night, perturbs the circadian rhythm of different living species. Once the sun and the stars were dictating these rhythms; nowadays, it is the artifice to impose, or rather, to completely upset cycles with new habits. The same artificiality that animates Bogana’s Light Polluters Lab, is found in Baker’s Low Chariot, which is a cradle of life, which reveals a refuge in something considered artificial and sterile. Tires are capable of enclosing a self-sufficient, self-surviving and long-lasting micro-ecosystem simply by being invisible to people, like unused, abandoned and decomposing industrial waste. The lamp is the sun, similar to a spatial base undisturbed in the universe, unconnected to the rest of the world, revolving around itself nourishing its life-system.
These phenomena of artifacts shaped by time outside of our intentions is also explained by Baker’s Sunshade.
These large circular structures made of sunblinds, left to bleach in the sunlight, to be consumed by weather: colors dissolved into the wind. These discolored surfaces became suns themselves, coming to represent the very same inflictions they have suffered. Heat is perceived in its shades, such as temperature emanations, whence the sun is interpreted by different chromatic iconographies based on cultural traditions of populations.
Baker creates shapes in which the sun becomes an image of itself on a material that one creates in order to shield the sun. We obscure what we also search, we always cover ourselves, since when it shines we can feel the sun: it reddens the skin, cause eyes to squint, that need to overshadow themselves. We look for a refuge and in its Baker’s works become a kind of measurement of human scale, showing the reach of corporal extent.
In this iridescent vastness some transparent structures persist; they are functional and technological but at the same time they are not. These are Corrugated reciprocities, a bequest of Bogana that stages an interaction with the immensity of Brigham’s circular shapes. Wavy plates freely evoke the behavior of light, figment of a technological imagination. They are mediator between an ethereal condition and an industrial dimension. We move in a room inhabited by shelter and exposure, diurnal and nocturnal aspects, between nature and artifice.
From darkness to light, the progression is, despite the transition, cognitive and conscious. The light is emphasized, these artists evoke a sort of landscape, on different scales, within a continuity that generates meaning. A dialogue exists, not only about light, but also in the interactive exchange between the artworks themselves. These evoke solitary places, slices of heaven, in the contemplative and silent dimension that connects them. It is not about light only, but our existence or perception as well. To close one’s eyes and see nothing more. And to not exist. Or to exist only in “our world” with own suns and stars. However, at that moment, it is just dark.