squaring the heavens (confining and unconfining)

journey through squaring the heavens

landscape & making during lock-down: as a little background to recent making – during lock-down because i was unable to gather new footage in the expansive landscapes that i am normally drawn to, i started to gather some footage from my garden. much has been written as the garden being a gendered space, something which stems from the historical confinement of women and their restrictions to move beyond the confines of the home because of their duties of home and family (Alexander, 2015:136). because of this, female artists and photographers developed a female gaze which used a close-up range, of or near the homestead as opposed to the wide, open and expansive range of the male gaze. as i discussed in my contextual study, gendered use of space was set up on patriarchal binaries and set the male gaze opposite the female gaze, with gender divides between distant versus close up range, wilderness versus tame landscape etc. these binaries also revealed a lot about the agency of the genders in relation to power, control and movement. so why all the references to the past? as i argued in my contextual study, historically the landscape was framed from a gendered perspective and this gendered gaze is residual in landscape’s rectilinear framing and its use of the single, fixed and, indeed, distant perspective. so in the middle of lock-down landscape, confinement seemed to enter into the dialogue i was having between landscape and my image making.

garden landscape as confined and unconfined space: a few weekends ago, after a long spell of fine weather we had a weekend of really gusty weather which seemed to trigger some thoughts about confinement against the energy from the wind as it shook the trees  – as if having a big problem with being confined. i recorded in one take, looking upwards towards the sky as the wind shook the trees. it struck me that this sky seemed like an infinite unconfined landscape belonging to the confines of the garden. in fact there has been much talk about having gardens as a way to escape confinement during lock-down – this upends the garden as a confined space or at least pits those binaries against each other. and in my recording and experiencing the landscape through the lens, i was also struck by my framing of the sky as if i was trying to put manners on something, put something back in its box or cut it into a piece i could fit or manage somehow.

confined & unconfined landscape and geometry: putting things back in their box , confining the infinite made me think of what i had been reading in relation to geometry and its foundation for mapping and framing the landscape – a visual packaging of the vast entity that is the landscape which again stems from a gendered system of rational thought and knowledge. i had recently downloaded Euclid’s theorems in relation to my contextual study and was reminded of my days spent trying to memorise them in school. i always liked geometry mainly because the theorems sounded complicated but were easy to understand visually. my dad always loved to hear myself and my sister rattle them off for him. anyway i returned to Euclid and read through the theorms – drawn to the ones that proved something about the relationship between rectangles and squares – rectangles being relevant to the framing of the landscape and squares suggesting some even further confining within – folding it tighter and smaller.  the language of these theorems are really hypnotic as they repeat phrases, letters and words such as equal to, greater than etc.

landscape through projection. not sure what i was going to do with this footage, i began by editing it into squares because of this feeling of trying to shorten and neaten something further rather than expand it through the horizontal rectilinear. i played around with how i edited the squares and made one square continue the story of the other. that night i played around with these squared images using my projectors – spacing them side by side, attached or hemming each other, or one over the other.

separate squares

DSC_0072touching squares

overlapping squares off kilter


gif file

reflection on the visuals: initially, i was really taken by the two projectors side by side with a gap because visually the room was flooded with colour. i played around with the timing of each video making the movement of the trees and the soundscape out of sync with each other which was adding to a strangeness. but once i put them on top of each other it seemed to play into what i was thinking about in terms of geometry and confinement of the infinite – it almost reminded me of a velux window view but made strange by the off kilter lining up of the images and the out of sync timing of their movement. where they overlapped created another layer of faded colour and looked further distanced.

reflection on the soundscape: the sound of the wind was also very present in these initial experiments and again i wanted to play around with making them out of sync not just with each other but with themselves so that sound did not line up with the visuals. i’m not always sure why these things need to happen straight away – maybe its about trying to get the ruler to these unruly entities but they refuse to obey. i also felt that this soundscape should feel like its competing with something else  – maybe trying to outdo a narrative some kind. i think i will try recording myself reading some of Euclid’s theorems, maybe whispering them or trying to remember them…. i am having a mad (huge) idea that this could be the beginning of a series of landscape works which respond to different theorems (a lifetime’s work perhaps!). anyway i am looking forward to looking back on my recording of these projections and exploring their soundscape – a competing cacophony of the unruly, the infinite, the rational, the confined.

reflection on the title: seemed to fit ‘ squaring the heavens’ . brings up all sorts of ideas about the relationship between finite and infinite, conceptual space and physical space etc.




Alexander, J.A.P. (2015) Perspectives on Place, Theory and Practice in Landscape Photography. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd.

Euclid (300 BC) Elements of Geometry [online] At: http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/Books/Euclid/Elements.pdf (Accessed 06.04.20).




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