"There is no nature that is inferior to art,
for the arts imitate the nature of things.”
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations XI.X
Humans have always sought to illuminate the natural world.
In ancient Greece, philosophers turned away from the capricious unpredictability of their gods, instead striving to understand their world through observation, reason and critical thinking. Building on the earlier mathematics and technology of the Babylonians and Egyptians, they laid the groundwork for rational inquiry and scientific thought.
The scientific revolution that followed, especially during the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, owes much to the philosophical and intellectual heritage of ancient Greece. Subsequent generations of scientists have worked to understand the natural world with increasing precision and accuracy – transforming our relationship with nature in the process.
On one hand, a deeper understanding of our world fosters a profound appreciation for its wonders and complexities. On the other, scientific and technological advances have led to exploitation and overconsumption, placing this same world – and our future within it – at peril. Despite living in an age of illumination, our actions and attitudes as a species threaten to plunge us into the dark.
Often, it can be useful to look backward in order to look forward. But where we have previously looked to the West, it may be time to turn our attention closer to home. Australia is fortunate to have some of the most unique and remarkable biodiversity on Earth, which First Nations people have skilfully nurtured and conserved for tens of thousands of years.
In Luminescence: In Our Nature, a series of eight tall, organically styled sculptures use dichroic optical filters to cast coloured light patterns in their surrounding environment, day and night. The installation reflects upon the ancient Greek legacy of scientific advancement through the magnificent forms of our local native flora, to inspire a profound sense of wonder and respect, and illuminate the importance of continuing to steward our natural world.
Luminescence: In Our Nature is a public art installation activated from 8AM–midnight daily and is free to view outside the Hellenic Museum at any time until mid January 2024.
Hellenic Museum x Skunk Control
This installation has been developed by Melbourne-based creative studio Skunk Control, who specialise in exploring the fantastical space between art and science.
Since forming in 2012, Skunk Control director Nick Athanasiou and his team have gained international attention. Their works have been exhibited in New Zealand, Portugal, Australia, USA, Singapore and at the world's most prestigious contemporary art festival, the Venice Biennale.
Inspired by technology, engineering, design, art, myth and science, their wildly inventive installations not only capture the imagination, but bring to life the scientific principles which underpin our natural world.
This project has been supported by the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund, a partnership between the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne.
The Hellenic Museum acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners on whose land we meet and work. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend this respect to all First Nations people. We recognise their continuing connection with the land and waters, and the role they have played – and continue to play – as the first custodians of this biodiverse country.