2001: A Space Odyssey

Arguably one of the most important films in cinematography’s recent history, it redefined the science-fiction genre, it tackles issues of artificial intelligence, technology and man’s evolution and relationship with technology – ground breaking. A defining part of the film is the surrealist approach to space and the known and unknown nature of human existence, explorations into the infinite and the sublime nature of infinity itself. All these points factor into this piece of film being not only important relevant to today’s photography. Something I have been trying to approach in my work is the nature of the infinite, something that is not necessarily easy to capture in a still photograph. To help me capture this theme and its relationship with humanity and technology I began looking at infinity in more detail

‘Eternal return (also known as “eternal recurrence“) is a concept which posits that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form an infinite number of times across infinite time or space.’ This concept can be found in ancient Egyptian and Indian philosophy. This led me to think about a more concise description of time as being cyclical and not linear. This grand idea of infinity can be summed up in two ways; mathematically it is represented by the symbol pictured below, an eight on its side as it is popularly recognised.

Pictured above and to the right is the symbol that is more traditionally used to represent the notion of infinity and eternal return, it is known as Uroboros. It is often pictured as either a snake or a dragon seemingly eating its own tail, the idea is that the snake is continuously growing because it always has food. A self-sufficient being, Plato described it as the first living thing in the universe. But what does this mean to my photography and I. Well it certainly helps one understand the nature infinity and its relationship to humanity, a never-ending life cycle that cannot be broken. But what impact does this have on actual everyday people. The short answer is, it doesn’t. The average person is aware of infinity but doesn’t pay it much attention, they’re not thinking of the cyclical nature of time and space more than they think about what to have dinner that evening, except for a select group of people, transcendentalists. In the next post I explore further my research into transcendentalism and of course it’s place in my work.

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