Sol 4,999, Silver-Plated Gelatin Silver Prints, 2018
10 x 8” each, Installation of 20 images
Sol 4,999 references a picture taken by the Opportunity mars rover as the sun rises for the 5,000th time during its extended mission, long after the vehicle was to be discontinued. Appropriating the image, Nelson created a series of halochrome prints, each repeating the same photograph. Bleaching and redeveloping silver gelatin paper, the halochrome process tones black-and-white prints by fusing colloidal silver into solid silver. This chemical stabilizing process raises questions concerning permanence, both of human and other life as well as of artifacts cast in rigid materials for future generations to find and marvel at. The prints also call to mind the way alien artifacts are imagined widely across popular culture, as metal objects with shiny surfaces. In depicting images of the sun, the work points to the medium of photography as a capture of light, while the repeated images formally resemble a fragmentary calendar, an attempt to measure something as abstract as time passing on a desolate planet. For Opportunity, the sun rose and set 5,000 times during 14 years of solitude on Mars. The title of the show points to another form of isolation. WarmWorlds and Otherwise references a science fiction short story collection by Alice B. Sheldon,who wrote under the male pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr. In obfuscating her identity, Sheldon insulated herself twice, both protecting herself against the misogynist attitudes cultivated in science fiction circles, and allowing her write about her own lesbian desires. Warm Worlds and Otherwise, the book and the exhibition, highlight desires to tap into other worlds, the serendipity in searching for the unknown, and exercises in abstraction that elude preconceptions while sounding other possible futures.