It’s easy to take photographs at face value, especially images of the planets. They are, after all, unique, one of a kind. Given the supposedly limited ability to capture an actual image of the planets within our solar system, the images we encounter must surely have been taken by a legitimate agency who’s sole purpose is to provide valid information on them. However, many legitimate images, even on NASA’s website, are not photographs but artist’s renderings or are not “straight” photographs but thermal images, etc. So while it’s easy to take an image at face value, that doesn’t mean we should.
At the microscopic level, objects that appear to be featureless take on the aspect of environment. The microscopic has it’s own terrain, elevation, and geography. In opposition to the microscope, the telescope flattens, resolving little of a planet’s surface and features. However, both instruments function to abstract the subject under observation. Both instruments frame the subject in a black circle, cutting it off from its context. Without context, the content becomes uncertain. The observer must look for clues as to what, exactly, is being shown. Do the images themselves, the information displayed with them, and the order in which they are arranged lead the viewer to a certain, incorrect conclusion? Do the existing clues (the elemental make up of each “planet”, the image of earth) lead the viewer to understand that these are not images of planets, but only stand-ins taken of objects under observance through a microscope? Or, since the closest most of us get to the planets of our solar system is an image on a flattened piece of paper, does this series function as an equal if somewhat symbolic stand in for the distant, three dimensional originals represented? In the end, having never seen a planet for myself other than the one I inhabit, how do I know that my fascimiles are not, in fact, more accurate than any of the photographs I have seen?
Portfolio - Small Worlds