The spans of time in natural history are so vast compared to the span of our lives that, even compared to recent history, it’s almost impossible to visualize or comprehend. Even a meagre stone–the nearest, most mundane piece of our planet–its history is a fragment of the history of the Earth, and the history of the Earth itself is only a tiny part of the history of the changing cosmos. Each pebble, each plant, each speck of dust in our wold is a window into a world that stretches across the far reaches of space and time.
Using the massive timescales of cosmology, Margaret Inga Urías uses this idea of time as a departure point to explore the delicacy of existence, with work that explores conditions of origination, fragmentation, evolution, and aftermath on cosmological scales.
Drawing from research conducted across areas of astronomy and astrogeology, she creates engraved glass sculptures, ink drawings, installations, and large-scale murals that explore the interconnectedness of existence, over these vast expanses of time. Her individual pieces serve as tentative and precarious markers of our place within the universe, each a search for how all things are intertwined, over enormous expanses of space-time, through planetary landscapes, moments of volatile transformation, and long-vanished cycles of catastrophe. It’s a multi-dimensional view of the transformative processes that lead to our existence in the here-and-now, and the where-we-are.
With interests in evolutionary mapping, cosmological timelines, and celestial object charting, she specifically looks for evidence of cosmic dust, or any atmospheric debris or fragmentary particles that can ultimately be strung together to form an evolutionary timeline of its passage through the universe, from the beginnings of time, to now.
With a particular focus on dust, from the quotidian to the cosmic, these works consider how entire worlds come from and return to this generative substance. If examined closely enough, she believes dust could tell the story of everything that ever existed. In her work, she examines how these infinitesimally small particles connect us to our present, past, and future: how we are born of dust, how we return to it, and how we are all forever connected through it. These smallest of specks coalesce to form everything we know and see. Her work chronicles the evidence of these particles and rocks, the remnants and crumbly debris of our planet and neighbouring planets, and traces the passage of this dust–a diaphanous, celestial material and ghostly substance that, while ubiquitous and ostensibly insignificant, connects all things, and contains in it all the memories of our lives, histories, and our universe–inextricably intertwined.
She’s looking at our chance beginnings, the unfathomable distances in the cosmos, and the invisible forces that exist out there beyond human experience, with an innate desire to look beyond the visible and the immediate, to contemplate our place, our existence within the larger macrocosm that maintains us, and within the entirety of the life history of the universe.
All images copyright and courtesy of Margaret Inga Urias
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