“Tempus Fugit, Vanitas Vita”
Etching on Copper Plate
9 x 12
“Near-death experiences still a phenomenon that continues to mystify science and spirituality alike. It bridges the mutual exclusivity of life and death.
In my piece I wanted to encompass what S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics is as a whole as well as the near-death experience topic. I used mathematical equations around the halo, a clock to touch on engineering, gross anatomy of the “soft machine” of the human body in the figure and skull for the sciences, as well as classical “Vanitas” motifs and symbols in the art of making this piece.
One of the three equations I used in the equations around the “halo” of the piece was the “Law of the conservation of Energy” which in theory states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. If we think of “energy” and “consciousness” as one entity in this case, in near-death experiences our consciousness cannot be ‘created’ or ‘destroyed’, yet are simply transferred from one plain to the next and are in limbo in the near-death experience.
The next equation I used was Schrodinger’s equation and Heisenberg’s equation which in a nutshell, both touch on the theory of observation which states that our observation of something always effect the outcome. In many human accounts of near-death experience there are patterns of light tunnels, out of body experiences, etc. Another pattern is seeing “god” in the shape of that particular person’s religion. We can account for the science behind these common themes, which states that every person who experience the same phenomenon, but since each account is particular to each person’s identity or beliefs the phenomenon shifts to meet that particular person’s observation which encompasses the theory that our observation changes the outcome of everything we witness.
Of course lastly, Schrodinger’s equation is loosely based off of this and furthers this in his famous “Schrodinger’s cat’ experiment in which if we cannot observe something, it is both alive and dead, which in turn relates back to the near death experience.
I shaped these scientific equations in a “halo” shape around the figure head to represent the science behind the “spirituality” of the near-death experience.
In the “art” portion of making this piece I used classical ‘vanitas’ motifs to express the transient nature of life. I used a classical clock which is crumpling and disappearing with the time in which the figure is “running out of time” in the near death experience. Dying flowers spring from her hair, and encompass around her in a funerary display. For once things that bloomed, cannot last. Moths fly away from the time running out for moths and rust destroy in their wake. Lastly, the figure is alive, yet we see the ghost of her anatomy and skull which is the universal symbol of death. Yet since the near-death experience is a moment between life and death she is still much alive over her body and they are simultaneously presented as such.
Even though very few of us experience a near-death experience, in the end we all universally experience life and death.”