Black Sun, (93' 05"), 2022. HD digital video, stereo digital audio

This moving image and sound work is a sequence of translations of the idea of a ‘black sun' together with an ambient soundtrack of solar sound (made from40 days of Michelson Doppler Imager data from between October 1996 and October 1997, processed by Alexander G Kosovichev of Stamford University and NASA), literally the ‘sound’ of the sun. Black Sun takes as both a fictitious and literal starting point Julia Kristeva’s adoption of (in her 1989 text of the same name) Gérard de Nerval’s image of the ‘black sun’ (from his sonnet El Desdichado) as an embodiment of productive melancholy. The black sun is inside-out, a kind of oxymoron, impossible yet potent as an image, a means to focus or embody the creative experience of Hippocratic melancholy.

Black Sun is intended to be seen as an installed artwork, with no narrative, to be viewed in a manner chosen by the viewer. At De Kelder the work was also seen in conjunction with a performance event in which - using the text of de Nerval’s much-translated poem - the processes, variations, effects, opportunities and anomalies of translation were explored.

Black Sun is funded by Creative Scotland 

El Desdichado

Gérard de Nerval (1808 -1855)

Je suis le Ténébreux, – le Veuf, – l’Inconsolé,

Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la Tour abolie :

Ma seule Etoile est morte, – et mon luth constellé

Porte le Soleil noir de la Mélancolie.

Dans la nuit du Tombeau, Toi qui m’as consolé,

Rends-moi le Pausilippe et la mer d’Italie,

La fleur qui plaisait tant à mon coeur désolé,

Et la treille où le Pampre à la Rose s’allie.

Suis-je Amour ou Phébus ?… Lusignan ou Biron ?

Mon front est rouge encor du baiser de la Reine ;

J’ai rêvé dans la Grotte où nage la sirène…

Et j’ai deux fois vainqueur traversé l’Achéron :

Modulant tour à tour sur la lyre d’Orphée

Les soupirs de la Sainte et les cris de la Fée.

I am Darkness, - the Widower, - the Disconsolate,

The Black Prince in a ruined tower:

My only star is dead and my decorated lute,

Bears the Black Sun of Melancholy.

In the darkness of the tomb, you, my consolation,

Return to me dead Posillipo and the Italian sea.

The flower that so pleased my broken heart, 

And the trellis where rose and vine combine.

Am I Eros or Apollo? Or Lusignan or Byron?

My brow still glows from the kiss of my Queen;

I have dreamt in the cave where the siren swims…

And twice I have - triumphant - crossed the Acheron:

As the lyre of Orpheus veers between

The sighs of the saint and the screams of the fae.

Trans. Andrew McNiven