The Constellation of the Elephant
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I have long been interested in the idea of finding one's way, both literally and metaphorically. The stars can give you your bearings like Polaris or tell you your longitude and latitude. The Mesopotamians saw many things in the heavens: Orion's belt, and the twelve signs of the zodiac to name but a few. Later, others saw different patterns there so that, for instance, the Assyrian Hired Man and the Swallow became the constellations of Aries and Pisces. What struck me about these star maps is that with the slight effort of imagination one can see what one wants there, just as a cloud can look like a camel, a hat and a trombone respectively to different people. A constellation implies a relationship. The stars are grouped together to form a pattern and then a label is put on that pattern. Perception works in much the same way. We call a flat surface with four (although not necessarily) legs a table. But whence this identity? What defines "tableness?" I decided to come up with my own set of imaginary constellations, of which the Elephant is the first. First drawn in pencil, it was scanned into a computer and there turned into a negative. I have sought to make it pleasing to the eye, and to give it a stark simplicity so that it will look well in many sorts of space.
Alexander Beeching | See All Editions