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2021 SPE Annual Conference: Imagining Legacy: Archives, Collections, and Memoria

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Reincarnation on an Astronomical Scale: Ruminations on the Afterlife in Jacqueline Hayden's Celestial Bodies (Scholar Presentation)

Saturday, November 03 - 3:00PM to 3:20PM
CFA 2018

This presentation examines Jacqueline Hayden's Celestial Bodies through the artist's Buddhist beliefs and interest in theoretical physics. The series of photographs of the cremation ashes of the artist's parents vacillates between emphasizing the literal transformation of bodies into ashes and the ashes' metaphorical transformation into stars and galaxies. The astronomical motif points to the influence of modern physics—i.e. String Theory's suggestion of alternate universes—and allows Hayden to expand the Buddhist concept of reincarnation to an astronomical scale. A consideration of the questions asked and methods used by physics and religion serves to further illuminate the role transformation plays in Hayden's photographs. Just as mythology is a metaphor for ineffable truths and mathematics a necessary mode of investigating unobservable phenomenon, the pictorial transformations in Hayden's Celestial Bodies work to visualize that which otherwise cannot be seen—the transformation of embodied person to eternal soul.

speaker

Maggie Dethloff
Maggie Dethloff

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