Immortalized in Amber

Amber is  a resinous material  associated with an insoluble bituminous substance. It comes in liquid form,but when it solidifies, it has the property of preserving any object that has been trapped in it. many fossilized insects and small animals have come to us from remote past encased in amber . Amber is the perfect time capsule for its ability not only to preserve any object, but also to preserve them with incredible care.
Technically, Amber turns anything it captures into a sculpture eternally frozen in time. But is this eternity immutable? or, is the sense that we give to this eternity immutable?

John Paul Robinson defines his project a “time capsule” . Its goal is preserved submitted representatives of human endeavors (including art and science) and send them to the future, encased in Amber. To contain these works, Robinson built a wooden container which will fit discs of ceramic of identical circumference, onto which are printed artworks and other artifacts. these discs will be then inserted in the capsule, preserved with amber and saved to be then retrieved in an indefinite and remote future.

for Robinson, this project is  “an act of reverse archeology. The objects in the Archive are charged with cultural import not by the finder but by the sender…retrieved not from the distant past but sent into the distant future…intended to generate a conversation about the future in the present, not the past in the future”.

Myth, according to Robinson, is art, a picture, a story, a map to navigate our world. Physicists, geneticists have described the history of the universe using scientific evidence.  They do not consider themselves myth generators. However, logics, reason and mythic thinking are connected. It is an evidence-based mythology, but still a mythology than makes stories in the same moment the scientist communicates his findings, the statistician describes his data etc.. 

In order to make sense of the world, we provide mathematical and visual evidence…just presented in a certain fashion. take for instance the iconic image of the earth seen from the moon during the Apollo mission. The original image should be flipped vertically. However, it is more impressive for us to imagine the earth from the perspective of the moon rather than from some kind of satellite floating next to it.

For those who think that there is a contradiction between the “mathematical” and objective view of the world (an untranslatable reality), and the “myths” that we make up to explain such reality, Robinson mentioned a memorable moment from Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.  A group of  pan-dimensional beings build a super-computer, Deep Thought,  to learn the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything”. After millions of years of “thinking”, the supercomputer produces the answer: 42.

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So in a certain way, the artifacts included in the Amber archive are mythical. But once we have encased them and left them to their destiny, will our future ancestors make of these artworks and science? how will they read them? no matter how hard we try to send a message to the next generation, we will always have to deal with the myths of that very generation.

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  1. Pingback: Of memory, legacies and mating | n.blog

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