Nautilus Universe

The spiral is the most intriguing and inspiring motif for me. In particular, the shape of the nautilus shell expresses the energy of the universe in an architectural form, and always makes me think about the ways in which this energy is at work on Earth. In this experimental work of art, I used digital enhancement to visually present my sense of the flow of energy within this shell. Doing so allowed me to once again glimpse a tiny universe.

My exploration of photo-based digital art began quite naturally. Photographs capture reality as images, but my imagination was aroused, and I wanted to realize those images more freely. For that reason, incorporating abstraction techniques as an extension of my digital darkroom felt very natural.

The spiral form captured my imagination as a child and never let it go. This pattern found in ammonites, Jomon “flame-rimmed” earthenware, and many other objects seems to be among the grand rules that hold sway throughout the universe. Even the rotations and orbits of the planets, when viewed from above, traverse outer space on spiraling paths. Did ancient humans draw these forms on tools, rocks, and the walls of caves because they sensed its presence in their lived experience? Or were the swirling patterns so sensually real for them they could not help but draw them?

The interior of a nautilus shell is comprised of finely divided, cell-like compartments linked together like a spiral staircase in a logarithmic spiral that obeys the golden mean, beckoning my mind to the far reaches of eternity. I never tire of looking at spirals, because for me they are the most familiar of the universe’s motifs. In this series, I used the shape of a nautilus as a motif to express swirling, dynamic energy and bursts of energy from cosmic events such as solar flares and the collision of stars. Also, I tried to realize how the energy dives into the soil of the Earth and fuses with the roots of plants.
For some reason, this image continues to evolve for me over time, and I look forward to seeing how it changes in the future.

                                                                                                               - Eriko Kaniwa

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