What the sun has seen
HD animation, 1O’
Aaron Ronelle Harrell
Work commissioned by curator Nadja Argyropoulou for Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative (PCAI), Greece
The film borrows its title from a poem by Polish poet of the
realist/positivist style Maria Konopnicka (1842-191O). The
poem “What the sun has seen” recounts in a childish style
the quotidian, peaceful rural activities and happy family life
of the nation in the countryside, as observed by the sun on
its daily journey across the sky.
Polska offers her own dark, ironic version of the poem,
dealing with contamination by information (information
waste) and the role of the ‘helpless observer’ who, like
the “Angel of History” in the well-known adage by Walter
Benjamin, can only look at the debris piled by lived time
without being able to intervene.
In the cataclysm of data and the noise of information that
haunt and possess the humans of today, nothing is really
‘digested’ but all items are consumed and repetition is
intoxicating and addictive like violence.
The film’s editing follows the course of routine web surfing,
going through sites of conspiracy theories, porn, cute
pets, social networks, noble nature and mass culture.
The ominous, polluting feeling is consolidated in the
flurry of images, even if these are temporarily pleasant or
At some point we hear the sun saying: “I have seen the
beauty of such greatness, that I could not find the
language beautiful enough to describe it. My gaze was
moving at a constant speed, and everything was becoming
irreversible the moment I observed it.”
With this reference to the most updated quantum theory
and the phenomenon of ‘superposition’, according to which
spacetime geometries call forth processes of collapse
independently of the presence of any sentient observer,
Polska wonders about the nature and transmission of
knowledge, and even more so about the ‘democracy
of knowledge’ in the time of knowledge’s absolute
accessibility. “Possessed, I myself become a waste of my
own consciousness,” notes the philosopher of science Michel
Serres (Malfeasance: Appropriation Through Pollution?
2OO8), as the artist brings to her screen the image of
a tearful Ayn Rand (19O5-1982), the Russian-American
philosopher and writer whose theories helped shape the
current of neoliberalism and the conservative trends of the
ethics of self-fulfilment and Objectivism.
Nadja Argyropoulou, March 2017