Being & Non-Being وجود وعدم

Hand-cut paper and acrylic on canvas, 100x100 cm.

Date14 April 2016
Category, ,

Back in March I gave a talk about my work alongside two other speakers. One of them was a scientist currently involved in a study of dark matter. I was riveted as she explained how it is totally invisible to us (or put more scientifically, undetectable by any means we have), but it is evidently there. You can see that in the gravitational pull of galaxies, and most strikingly in the incredible gravitational lensing which I won’t attempt to explain but looks like this:

Another thing that stuck in the mind was the fact that ordinary (i.e. visible) matter is estimated to make up only 5% of the mass of the universe. That made me think irresistibly of Being (Wujûd, وجود) and Non-Being (3adam, عدم), manifest and unmanifest, two concepts I have worked with before but that were now presenting themselves as a pair. This piece is a reflection on their relationship, inspired by the current state of science’s understanding of dark matter.

At the centre is Being, occupying a tiny area of the canvas which is otherwise filled with Non-Being. Our friend mentioned that “dark matter” was an unfortunate name so I wanted to move away from associating it with black, and as the paper equivalent of the black emptiness of space is whiteness, I decided to use cut paper, white on white. The word stretched into a green ring can just be guessed: it is just a glimpse, similar to what we observe through gravitational lensing, of what lies much further out, beyond the Nothingness — what Sufis call Absolute Truth.

3 Replies

  • your father posted this – glad to see that your eyes are keen and bright – even in the absence of information – the looking is sometimes more of an answer than the seeing. This reminds me of the Heart Sutra. Dark Matter also reminds me of a hippie game we’d play at silly parties years ago – Gorilla rats were a vague and ubiquitous enemy of all that was truth and light and we’d go out and shoot peanuts from a slingshot confident that we’d hit a gorilla rat – because they’d smell it and be wherever the peanut hit. Thanks for pointing out where I might aim .

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