What Is Dark Energy, 2016, 18" x 174", Acrylic thread, acrylic paint, transfer pigment, canvas
In Fall, 2016, I was invited by the King School in Stamford, CT, to be the inaugural Artist-in-Residence. Together with the art faculty and 3rd, 4th, 8th, and Upper School students, we worked on an embroidered frieze.
Why Dark Energy?
I am drawn to big questions about scale and time, like, “how much does the earth weigh?” or “how far to the middle of the sun?” These questions humble me and test how I understand my place in the world. They are nonsense questions, in a way, because I am asking them in a way that belies the facts; the earth does not have a weight. Instead, scientists talk about mass that reacts to gravitational pull, and distances in the solar system are so vast that they fluctuate. But, we humans have internalized these questions and given them metaphorical meaning when we talk about having the “weight of the world on our shoulders.”
I love the friction between these two ways of thinking, and delight in finding out that our language is not precise, but is ambiguous. Furthermore, the search for dark matter and dark energy is, as I understand it, essentially the quest for answers about the birth of the universe. It is the next great threshold of understanding how our home base, earth, got here and we on it. As David Byrne sings, “How did I get here?”
All the amazing research being done at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland centers around these powerful questions about the start of our universe, and in particular, the search for dark matter.
I am not a scientist, but I have found that the reporting on dark matter makes science journalists write pretty wonderful phrases. To my mind, this poetic forefront of physics is bearing poetry in the form of ambiguous phrases that are quite visual. I am giving form to that language.
I love devising systems in my practice, and I love language, and I love ambiguity. I thought that anagramming the phrases would speak to these particles as well as to what we don’t really know. The dark matter is like our basest parts of language: letters. I am blasting apart and reorganizing the phrases about dark matter, getting new, delightful, sometimes very silly phrases.
Finally, I find many parallels between science research and a studio practice. I find questions that drive my work, test theories, refine processes, reflect on outcomes and push for new information. It is a leap of faith to do my work, just as I imagine the awesome research being done at CERN requires on a daily basis.