Parallel Universe

3–27 April 2019
Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne
Curator: Felicity Spear


Felicity Spear: Many Worlds

Imagining a parallel universe suggests that we look to the complex workings of the human brain, much of which still remain a mystery, in order to propose a parallel or different universe. The idea or experience of an imagined other is the subject of the artists in this exhibition. They create works which speak of an unfamiliar environment where a different way of thinking or seeing, a scientific hypothesis or a psychological state, could be extended beyond our sense of an immediate reality.

We can and do experience what could be thought of as parallel universes in our mind, our dreams and imaginings. But what if beyond our dislocated dreams we could sense a parallel universe made possible because we could see more of the information which we cannot now see? A universe which another being might perceive but humans might not.

Few of us understand that the part of the electromagnetic spectrum which is available to us is a minute fraction of it. Our brains are tuned to detect an extremely small fraction of the surrounding reality. Different animals in the same ecosystem tune in to different environmental signals. These are fundamental to their communication and signification.

The human sensorium is enough for us to get by in our own ecosystem, but it does not approximate the larger picture. So, the idea of a parallel universe also captures the idea of limited knowledge, of unobtainable information, and of unimagined possibilities which if experienced could be unsettling, mysterious, stimulating or enlightening in some way. We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. But so much goes undetected in our lives. What would happen if we could go beyond the limits of our senses or our current imaginative possibilities? And what would this mean for planet Earth, a speck of dust floating in a vast and as yet unfathomable universe of possibilities? Would this endow us with the intellectual humility required to ensure the survival of life on our planet?

Fifty years ago on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the Moon, breaking away from planet Earth to explore our only natural satellite. Since that time some of the mystery of the moon has been demystified. The feat of actual travel to the moon has become the new ‘hero’ story and has stimulated a fresh generation of science fiction addicts.

All Earth-based study of the Moon has been limited by the fact that only one side of the Moon ever faces Earth. This has caused much speculation about what might be on the other side. Recently however space exploration has beamed back photos from the Moon’s other side as human generated technologies penetrate further into space. There ‘be no dragons there’, and plenty of material for scientific research. However, the Moon is the largest and brightest object in our night sky and it continues to radiate an air of mystery, and to stimulate our curiosity, suggesting many associations and imagined experiences in the universe of our minds.

Felicity Spear – March 2019

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