“Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m'effraie”
PASCAL, 1963, p. 528
Diante da infinitude do nada 2022 - 2023
For as long as I can remember, looking at images related to space has always caused me anxiety. Since my childhood, I have never been able to visit a planetarium or even open a space atlas. This constant aversion to things related to outer space raises the question: does this qualify as a phobia? And if so, what would its name be? As I try to find a rational and scientific explanation for this fear, I have encountered the limitations of human knowledge when it comes to our minds.
The most complex object in the known universe is essentially ourselves, our own brains. We are still far from fully understanding the complexity of the human brain and the way it shapes our thoughts, behaviours, and experiences. From the workings of the human brain to the origins of consciousness, these mysteries challenge us to better understand ourselves and our place in the world. One of the key mysteries of the mind is the nature of consciousness itself. How do we form and process thoughts and emotions? What is fear? How does it come about? Where does it come from?
Heidegger (1889-1976) says that fear is made of the ignorance of our own being, and we all have to live it and understand it. Fear points to our fragility, vulnerability, and finitude, and he proposes that humans experience fear by confronting their deepest instincts, through the courage to plunge themselves into the abyss of the unknown and the ability to walk towards nothingness.
And that was what I did. In an attempt to throw myself into the abyss, I began creating images that evoked the universe and with which I felt some discomfort. To do that I found myself compelled to look at real images of the universe, and I became deeply intrigued by a series of photographs that I couldn't identify their content. I tried to understand what these shapes and colors represented, and quickly found myself confronting the limitations of human knowledge about the universe.
Since humanity became aware of the world around them, they have not stopped looking at the sky and trying to understand it. Bizarre and ghostly entities, characterized by the force of gravity, populate this world full of uncertainties. There is still so much we don’t understand about the cosmos, from the nature of dark matter and dark energy to the fundamental nature of matter and energy. These mysteries challenge our current understanding of the world and push us to think deeper about our place in the universe.
In this project the mysteries of the mind and the mysteries of the universe intertwine with my own mysteries and limitations. Through the combination of archival images of the universe from a telescope and microscopic images of the interior of our own body, along with the creation of photographs that make me uncomfortable, and the inclusion of testimonies from people who share similar concerns, I attempt to understand what troubles us so much in these images. How is it possible to fear something I have never seen, merely through images?
What is so disturbing about the cosmos? Is it the perception of existence, spatiality, and temporality in the face of infinity? Is it emptiness? This emptiness that at the same time contains the existence of everything. Could it be that what disturbs me is the awareness of my modest size lost in the immensity, reduced to a tiny point in a blue sphere? As soon as we cross the boundary of what is known, fear arises, because in that moment we become ignorant, we are no longer so sure, we can make mistakes. According to Heidegger, deep down the only fear that exists is the fear of time because death stops time, and the fear of death is actually the fear of the moments that were not lived.