Heliograph – Drawing with the Sun

Making a mark is as old as mankind. From ancient times we imbued meaning into mark-making.

Another term for making marks is drawing. This can be figurative as in a portrait or abstract such as a single black line. Each style has its own emotion and narrative, always dependent on the artist’s unique Duktus.

Heliograph is a series of three drawings, a triptych if you like. Each drawing is made independent from my hand, removing all characteristic styles associated with myself. Heliographs become an idea of, or, for mark making.

Keeping to my love for glass, a lens was mounted upon a tripod, where the height of the tripod equaled the focal point of the lens. This meant that the lens can now be placed stationary on the ground, on Earth, placing the “canvas” to be marked, or burned if you like, as the sun moves across the sky above.

Everything is moving

As our planet rotates around its axis, radiated light energy of the sun focuses through the lens onto the white painted wooden board. Adjustments in alignment, in relation to the sun can predetermine the focal passage or direction and placement of the mark on the square.

At around 09:50 on the 18th of October 2018 the first Heliograph mark commenced. The duration of passage, where the sun’s energy is focused upon the board through the lens, lasts till around 14:30, about 4,5 hours.

In essence I recorded the rotation of our planet in relation to our closest star through a lens onto a square “canvas”.

You’ll notice some variations or intensities of this drawn line. These are due to clouds passing between the lens and sun. I intentionally wanted this effect and only set up on partly cloudy days. In some cases the line is abruptly interrupted as clouds must have obscured sunlight for several minutes. I prefer this as it gives the line variation, making it more interesting and unpredictable – emulating entropy…

The Heliograph lines are drawn from right to left, where the left side is aligned towards the East and South to the top (as the image hangs). This phenomenon occurs as sunlight is pivoted through the lens.

I realised so many things about what the vastness around us reality holds. The lens’s pivot point inversely translates the distance of the sun as the Earth turns. Making the sun’s energy visible, the concentrated ray burns through the wooden board and one notices the curvature of the sun’s northern inclination perceived from our southern hemisphere.

In a way I am exploring the magic of our universe hidden in the here and now.

Heliographs are each a recording, through a lens, of a single and specific day. There is a sense of beauty in the raw energy oxidising the wooden canvas, marking the spin of our planet in the vastness of the Cosmos.

Heliographs are part of the See Art – Contemporary Drawing exhibition curated by Derek Zietsman at Gallery 2, Johannesburg until February 23rd 2019.

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