IV EARTH : The Sphere
In geometrical terms, a circle can be considered to be an infinitely-sided shape and a sphere to be a shape made up of an infinite number of circles.
The sphere has the smallest surface area of all surfaces that enclose a given volume, and it encloses the largest volume among all closed surfaces with a given surface area. The sphere therefore appears spontaneously in nature; for example, bubbles and small water drops are spherical because the surface tension minimizes surface area.
The original creation myths explain the beginnings of the universe as a deliberate act of creation by a superior being. Similar dogmas were found throughout the ancient world, and they share the virtue of expressing perceived truths at a symbolic level. Many of the creation myths have themes and concerns in common, such as the splitting of the earth’s constituents amidst the primordial chaos or the earth emerging from an infinite and timeless ocean.
The sphere in this installation stands for Earth, the last of the four elements. The Harcourt Glass is placed in the centre as an allegorical reference to the alchemists’ much-beloved “transmutation of matter”. Having emerged from the magma at the centre of the earth and finally reached a crystalline form, the Glass also represents the rock cycle: tectonic plate movements give birth to mountains which are then eroded into grains of sand and carried away by rivers, and the silica in this sand is used as the raw material for glass and crystal manufacturing.
From a formal perspective, the installation is made up of a series of discs and rings which serve to create a double sphere; the first solid sphere has a hollow at its centre which forms a second sphere. The Harcourt Glass appears to be suspended in the centre of this second sphere, radiating outwards as though from the centre of the earth. In this installation too, the Glass is visible merely as a projected shadow when seen in profile, gradually revealing itself until it can be seen in its full grandeur face on, like a revelation of secrets to initiates.
Earth is the most technically complex of all the installations, and its execution required in-depth research into infographics to maintain the geometric purity of the original sketch.
IV EARTH : The Sphere