Emily Joy Zeller

(all of this is rocket science)

Performing Nature / Playing God

Everything we encounter is interpreted—our past projects onto our experiences in the external world, or the present reflects into us. All of our being is the sum of our experiences, past and present.

We carry the memories of our past with us forever. They play on as short clips in our minds, or hang around as the haunting image that never leaves. Over time, the mental pictures fade and distort. Only the most biting hold true while others bend and yield. The present layers with the long past, and meld together to form a single image.

I call upon childhood memories that, though they could be universal, are personal to myself. Current events blend with mental images from my past to form a visual representation of incidents that interpret personal and collective memory, while being a full representation of my experience. The rituals of childhood and the land inform my work, creating commentary on our relationship with the world. We are still children in the greater timeline, learning the hard truth that what we destroy we can’t always fix.

My images show the confused interactions between humans and the natural world, the myths that we believe as children, and the myths perpetuated by societal institutions. Believing we can reanimate a dead fish by stuffing it with something living talks to the growing chasm between man and the environment, while playing war with bark armor points to our lack of understanding about the magnitude of loss and cost of war.

The images are displayed as diptychs to provide a sense of narrative. Paired with each set is a poem relating to the events the images depict, but also heightening or shifting their initial understanding. The text and images work together, each answering questions the other poses.