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Layers of Darkness and Light

Layers of Darkness and Light

PhD Candidate Samoa Remy's doctoral project

Popular scientific summary

The research project is in part inspired by a philosophical and aesthetic reflection by the philosopher Giorgio Agamben. In his text "What is the Contemporary" he writes: "The contemporary is he who firmly holds his gaze on his own time as to perceive not its light, but rather its darkness. The contemporary is precisely the person who knows how to see the obscurity". And he continues "… to perceive this darkness is not a form of inertia or of passivity, but rather implies an activity and a singular ability. In our case, this ability amounts to a neutralization of the lights that come from the epoch in order to discover its obscurity, its special darkness, which is not, however, separable from those lights."

I'm interested in a definition of the terms "obscurity" and "darkness" both as a metaphor for the phase of artistic research where there's a search for something that's invisible, undefined and indistinct, and also as a metaphorical and physical translation into an artwork.

Ever since my exhibition project "Imagines faciunt saltus" from back in 2008, I have been working with the timeline as a means to expand perception of time and history – to expand temporal view.

Equilibrium between different forces are essential both in the creation and in the reading of my artworks. I'm searching for a whole that is plurivocal, and therefore I often chose components with an opposite or contrasting nature.

Academic summary

As a result of personal interest related to my artistic practice, I initiated a collaboration with CERN in Geneva, in 2013. I was and am very interested in their scientific research on subatomic particles – the smallest "building-bricks" of the universe. This research is one of the departure points for the project. I'm pairing my research in this field with another area of interest, which relates to both the previously mentioned text by Agamben and what he writes about the darkness, the cosmos, the expansion of the universe, and the expression of this mystery, and which at the same time permits me to deepen into one topic which has been of great interest for me since very early in my artistic research: The existence of antique cosmogonies, indivisible from the aspect of sound in primitive societies. From an early age I have been inspired by the writings of the german ethnomusicologist Marius Schneider, whose research covers most of the antique societies in the world, and which confirms the fact that in most of the archaical cosmogonies, sound was perceived to be the basic matter. This raises awareness of the existence of an “intercultural philosophy” and a connection between sound and spirituality which we find in the “Rites of Creation” in most of the archaical societies around the world.

One of the key-elements in this project is transformation. This transformation is similar to f. ex. the one which occurs when something goes from being in an amorphous state, to a state of crystallised form and structure. Order of this kind can be found all over in nature. Order can also be found in f. ex. music, but this is a different type of order which needs movement. Transformation is also a key element in the research on subatomic particles, where enormous amounts of resources and energy are invested in the attempts to "crystallise" human theories through the collision of particles in order to create the smallest "building bricks" of the universe – particles which does not exist on planet Earth under normal conditions. And once created, these particles only exist for the tiniest fraction of a second. Likewise, transformation is also an essential element when it comes to the Rites of creation, found in many of the archaic human societies. But here it is often sound which is the creator.

Something which goes from an amorphous state, to a state of crystallised form and structure, is at the core of the project, both when it comes to dealing with theoretical, artistic and aesthetic problematics

Project facts

Project title Layers of Darkness and Light
Project manager Samoa Remy
Oslo National Academy of the Arts
Start date
End date
Project status Active
Department Art and Craft