“Perhaps I should not hope to convey in mere words the unutterable hideousness that can dwell in absolute silence and barren immensity. There was nothing within hearing, and nothing in sight... yet the very completeness of the stillness and the homogeneity of the landscape oppressed me with a nauseating fear.”
HP Lovecraft, Dagon, 1917
For as long as I can remember, my dad has traversed the high seas aboard massive container ships. As a merchant mariner, he ventures out twice a year, four months at a time on journeys of commerce, bringing goods to and from ports around the world. As a child, awareness of stories written by Lovecraft, Melville, and Poe influenced my perception of what my dad did for a living. Imagining battles with island sized beasts, mutineers, and the fantastical barrenness of the sea, I couldn’t help but want to go on a voyage too.
The ocean has always been an anchor, existing as a space of mystery and possibility at the periphery of my consciousness. My work is largely informed by this early relationship to the sea and I often frame the ocean as a site of potential fantasy and open possibility. My work, using sculpture, model making, and collage, suggests an archive from a voyage happening only in my imagination. This project conceptualizes a prototype for escape, speaking to a state of dreaming rather than an approach to planning. By looking to the sea as an infinite space of speculation, I reveal a universal desire to confront the unknown and to give form to daydreams on the possibilities that exist within the physical and emotional massiveness of the sea.
By combining the scientific process and the fantastical nature of mythology, my speculative process is an account of daydreams of an encounter with the unknown. I often look to the narrative quality of myths as the impetus for my dreams of adventure. At the beginning of the scientific age, the mysteries of the world were understood and rationalized through story. The giant squid, sighted so rarely on the surface of the sea, has spawned lore about the monsters of the depths such as the Leviathan and the Kraken. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder’s texts from the first century AD relates the Kraken as scientific fact, solidifying its importance as part of the sea faring civilization’s relationship with the ocean. Being physically impenetrable, with the surface acting as a veil for the depths, the ocean opens itself to an imaginative entry. Stories are generated because of this inaccessibility, as it only spurns desire for further access.
Einstein said that “imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” A speculative approach to the world of knowledge and experience is important to remember. With such a contemporary emphasis on knowledge through classification and quantification, we forget the importance of wonder and its effect on our psyche.