week 10


This week we read the epic The Conference of the Birds. My immediate impulse was towards a strongly visual, if somewhat obvious, visual representation of the story. The culmination of the story is when the thirty birds reach the valley of the legendary Simorgh and are met with only their collective reflection. Beyond the pun of si morgh – thirty birds – and Simorgh, this moment reveals the transcendent nature of God. As they gaze into their reflection, the thirty birds realize that, at the end of their long and arduous journey, that God exists within their collective selves and in the totality of all things. To reflect this idea of finding God in the totality of the universe, I decided to draw thirty bird silhouettes which, when taken together, make up the silhouette of the great, phoenix-like Simorgh.


However I felt that this representation was not sufficient to communicate the magnitude of the enlightenment realized by the birds. I accordingly decided to print my design on acetate and project it using light. Since we have talked so much about light symbolism and Noor Muhammad in the course, I have always wanted to incorporate light into one of my projects. I thought it was especially appropriate in this case as in a projection, light is being used to augment something beyond its physical reality. In the course we discussed light as a metaphor for God, as well as a symbol of Muhammad’s charisma as it is passed down through his familial line. It is only appropriate that in this project light is used to expand something that is physically insignificant. Using light, a small design can expand to occupy a space in its entirety, just as God’s presence within man can extend his being beyond his physical being. Ultimately, in this case, the sum of thirty birds is greater than its individual parts.

Medium: screenprinting on acetate; light