In my exhibition Entwinings I have fused the material manifestations on human and non-human processes – wasp’s nests and globular pieces of my own making – so that their boundaries cannot be clearly perceived.
The wasp’s nest resembles ashes resemble each other to some degree in composition. The nest, however, has a distinct structure and solid form held together by the secretion of the wasp. Similarities can be seen between the structure of the wasp’s nest and the conception of Antiquity regarding the structure of the world. According to the latter, the world was composed of a series of spheres within each other, with man at its centre. The wasp’s nest is constructed in precisely this way in relation to its inhabitants. At its core are the cells, the centre of the wasp community’s habitat, and it is from here that the wasps venture on their food-gathering expeditions into “outer space” beyond the nest.
In 1964, two years before the earth was photographed from outer space for the first time, a textbook of geology noted that “races whose horizons are limited to tribal territory, a mountain valley, a small strip of shoreline or the blocks of a crowded city” cannot have any idea of the real nature and extent of the world around them. If true knowledge is acquired only by viewing the world from outside, this claim is self-evidently true. It is precisely this visually based assumption that has provided us with the image of the world as a globe. It also gives primacy to knowledge acquired by looking at globular models in comparison with knowledge that we obtain by actively taking part in the events of our surroundings.
Unlike solid globes that can be inspected only from the outside, membranous layers or spheres must be viewed from the inside. The global perspective could thus be called centripetal and the spherical perspective centrifugal. The spherical perspective also resembles the relation of a foetus in the womb with the outside world.
Unlike wasps, people do not, in global terms, live inside their inhabited ball. It is a noteworthy fact, though, that shelters constructed for protection against catastrophes are in caves excavated in the crust of the earth, which means that safety is ultimately felt to be found within the globe. As we now know, space beyond our globe is not a fruitfully beneficent environment as in the case of wasps. Despite laborious and ever further reaching exploration into outer space, life or even any matter suitable for nutrition has not yet been observed beyond Earth.
In the ancient past man felt that he lived at the centre of several layers of spheres surrounded by material ether, while according to modern knowledge he is travelling in an infinite void, on the surface of a globe without any destination, amidst countless planets without life. What does it mean emotionally to man that his consciousness of the ultimate foundation of being has changed?