Tales of the Hollow Earth : Cosmology

April 9 – 16 2011 – Made In Newcastle

Ten pictures by Paul Thompson

ONE : Games

The best board games are those whose depth of complexity and strategy comes from a very small number of easily understood elements and rules.

Chess is considered to be a very deep game – it has six types of piece and, including the rules for their movement, winning conditions and a couple of exceptions, about a dozen rules. Our greatest computers can match our greatest human players.

Go has only one type of piece, and despite or because of this simplicity is so deep that computers still cannot match the best players.

Given a tiny number of rules of engagement, then where does the conflict come from?

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TWO : Physics

Why is there something and not nothing, and what is it all made out of?

All matter is made out of molecules and molecules are made out of atoms, are made out of electrons, are made out of elementary particles. These are far too numerous and untidy for anyone to believe that they’re the final word.

But even if physicists successfully pair it down further, where does my motivation come from?

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THREE : Stories

Various theories of elements have existed – most commonly four or five, being variations on the theme of: Water, Air, Fire and Earth, occasionally subdividing one, or adding another such as spirit or void.

Unlike the elements of quantum physics, these elements are often associated with properties we would recognise in our daily lives (Hot, Fluid, etc.) both as physical phenomena and components of a personality/emotional states. These kinds of ideas/metaphors are used as component parts in the system of Tarot.

The twenty two cards of the Major Arcana could represent a single story, which would not be unfamiliar to viewers of the Star Wars Trilogy. Or the Matrix: The FoolThe MagicianThe High Priestess, ending with The SunJudgement and a return to The World.

FOUR : Comics

Show people two dots and a line and they will see a face. Show them two pictures next to each other and they will begin to construct a story. Now you understand comics.

I write a comic called Tales of the Hollow Earth. The stories in this comic are inspired by science and the tendency to see meaning where there may not necessarily be any.

But what would the subatomic, elemental particles of a fictional word look like? The quanta of Middle Earth is probably very different to the quanta of the universe of Victor Frankenstein, The Justice League of America, Doctor Benway or Calvin and Hobbes.

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FIVE: Finding Meaning where it may not Be?

So this exhibition represents early attempts at mapping the fundamental principles on which the universe of my Tales of the Hollow Earth is built. Where does the conflict come from, in that world, where does the meaning and aesthetics come from.

By early attempts, I mean to say that these pictures, which I hope you like on some level, are experiments with these ideas, and not expected to be successful. Recurring themes, some obvious, some not, run through the series. Some of them were deliberate, some I spotted afterwards, and some are entirely your own.

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SIX:  Why is there Something and not Nothing?

I’m thankful to Made in Newcastle for the opportunity to have a deadline to work to, without which none of this would likely ever to have became a real, nailed to the wall exhibition.

Why you should care about this personal cosmology isn’t for me to say, I’m afraid and I’m not going to argue strongly that you should at this stage – it’s an experiment and a work in progress for me. That said, I hope it works for you on some level.

Thanks for taking the time to look though, please let me know if you got anything out of it. I hope that this meandering was useful to you on some level.

Let me know.