Artist's Statement

Jim Nickelson

Synopsis: In Harmony of the Spheres, I use photographs of the night sky as the raw material to create new abstract pieces evocative of the search for celestial order.

Exhibition dimensions: 20”x20” archival inkjet prints & 5”x5” cyanotypes

My photographs are the result of my inquiries into the ways that we as a species grapple with the unknown and our relationship to the Universe, particularly as those inquiries delve into the realms of science and the cosmos. In Harmony of the Spheres, I follow in the footsteps of thinkers throughout millennia seeking order in the movement of the stars and planets, embracing how the quest for order in the Universe relates to fields of study ranging from music, numerology, representation of music and the cosmos in art, and to modern cosmology. I create each photograph using as raw materials photographs of one night’s performance of the night sky, and then create pieces from a series of completed photographs.

Many ancient thinkers seeking to find order in the Universe, starting with the Greek philosopher Pythagoras and continuing for over two thousand years, believed that celestial objects such as the sun, moon, visible planets, and stars moved above and around the Earth in a series of rotating celestial spheres. The movement of these spheres created celestial music as each rotated in harmonious relationship with the others. This music of the spheres as they revolved about the earth in sublime harmony also influenced Earth-bound aspects such as music, processes from nature, and even the human soul.

The quest to understand the sublime motion of the heavens above was thus seen as the key to unlocking the mysteries of life on Earth and was in many ways the impetus behind both modern music theory and the fundamental idea of scientific inquiry. Harmony of the Spheres is my own attempt to visually synthesize and celebrate the search for cosmic order.