Laurel Roth Hope
Key to Allegory of the Infinite Mortal
The Border
The border shows a scientific representation of space, which we continue to
explore and ponder with the very limits of our science and intellect.
1. Hubble Images – Images from the Hubble telescope go through a translation
process to make them accessible for human contemplation. The
representations we see of these images are translated into color spectrums
the human eye can see.
2. Griffith Observatory - representing mankind’s use of science to extend the
furthest reaches of mankind’s knowledge and understanding.
3. Mayfly - Mayflies have the shortest lifespan of any animal on earth. The
lifespan of an adult mayfly can vary from just 30 minutes to one day
depending on the species. The primary function of the adult is reproduction;
the mouthparts are vestigial, and the digestive system is filled with air.
4. Notre Dame - representing mankind’s use of religion to extend the furthest
reaches of mankind’s knowledge and understanding.
5. Demon - Demons known as kalas are frequently used in architecture in India
and Southeast Asia. They appear over doorways with disembodied heads
and bulging eyes, a row of upper teeth, and ribbons of flowers, foliage or
pearls disappearing into their open mouths. The mythic kala devours all in
his path, serving as a reminder that everything in the natural world is
eventually consumed by time. As part of an archway framing the sky and
inspired by early Jain and Hindu thinking about the infinite, the demon also
represents Kirttimukha, devourer of time and symbol of life feeding upon
itself for survival.
A rain of binary code falls across the sky from the devil’s mouth as his jaws
return all created things back into undifferentiated matter, breaking down the
forces that organize life and matter.
6. Makara – considered a protective animal and used in Jain, Buddhist, and
Hindu archways. It is often depicted, as in this tapestry, vomiting forth the
world. We first became interested in this symbol when we saw it used in
archways at the Astrologer’s Seat at Fatehpur Sikri in India.
30. Big Bang Gib Gnab – A representation of the theory that the universe could
collapse, initiating another Big Bang, so that the universe would last forever,
but pass through infinite phases of expansion (Big Bang) and contraction
(Big Crunch). This representation also alludes to DNA’s double helix.31. Galileo’s telescope - represents our quest to find the bounding limits of the
infinitely large.
32. Darwin’s microscope - represents our quest to find the ultimate building block
of everything.
The Sky
The sky, the spiritual depiction of space, is shared by iconography from a
melding of science and religion. The tunnel in the sky references both the
holographic principle of black holes (in which the universe is a holographic
projection from the event horizon of a black hole) and historic paintings depicting
a celestial heaven and empyrean “all-fire.”
7. Moon - symbolic of the Albedo stage of Alchemy associated with the female
and purification. The moon is also associated with the female in a variety of
8. Phoenix – symbol of eternal resurrection and cyclical immortality.
9. Skylab – Icarus
10. Sun - symbolic of the Citrinitas stage of Alchemy associated with the male
and enlightenment. The sun is also associated with the male in a variety of
11. Six Winged Angel – Non-anthropomorphized entities such as these were
once understood as allegorical before religion, in competition with the
growing influence of science, became more empirical.
12. Turritopsis nutricula – called the immortal jellyfish, this medusa (adult
jellyfish) can revert to the polyp stage after becoming sexually mature.
Theoretically, this process can go on indefinitely, effectively rendering the
jellyfish biologically immortal.
13. Angel of Death – represents the fear of one’s own mortality that
contemplation of the infinite can entail.
14. HeLa cell – (1951-present) the first immortal human cell line, living and
reproducing outside of a human body.
15. Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world as of 2010, rises from the sea
as our Tower of Babel.16. Monsters in the Deep – fear of the unknown. Used in early maps to
represent uncharted territories.
17. Fire on Water – Represents the Philosopher’s Stone aka “living gold” that
which is both fire and water and only attainable by the perfect human.
The Formal Garden
The formal garden is an enclosed human space representing contemplation and
elevation of the soul. It is a space representing neither the City representing
commerce, the jungle representing untamed nature, nor the Palace representing
power. The concentric circular structure references garden labyrinths used for
contemplation. Eden is described in Genesis as a beautiful garden enclosed by
circular walls and filled with life-giving waters and fruit trees.
18. Platonic Solids – while the number of 2 dimensional regular polygons is
infinite, these five solids are the only 3-dimensional regular polyhedrals,
representing the constriction of infinite possibility with added dimensionality.
19. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) — is depicted holding the bust of his philosophic
predecessor Aristotle (384-322 BC) and represents the evolution of
philosophical understanding of the infinite.
20. Ouroboros – represents eternal return and cyclical nature
21. Johannes Keppler (1571-1630) – German mathematician and astronomer
who found the “3 fundamental laws of Planetary Motion” describing the earth
and planets revolving around the sun. He built on Nikolas Copernicus’s
(1473-1543) heliocentric model using Tycho Brahe’s (1546-1601) exacting
observations of planetary motion. These laws were later used by Newton
(1642-1727) to establish his Laws of Universal Gravitation.
22. Fountain of Youth – represented here by Klaus Weber’s LSD Fountain,
2003, the fountain of youth has long symbolized man’s quest for immortality.
23. Timothy Leary (1920-1996) – In his later life life, Timothy Leary became
interested in extending the human lifespan. His quest for immortality included
plans to have his head cryogenically frozen as well as exploring early
theories of downloading personality into digital media. In the end he was
cremated, but a portion of his ashes were sent into orbit in the Pegasus
24. Blue Roses – Blue roses signify the never-ending quest for the impossible.
They are not found in nature and serve as the trigger for a reality check,much like the spinning top in Inception or the White Rabbit of Alice in
Wonderland or The Matrix.
25. Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) and Charles Babbage (1791-1871) – Modern
computing, which is directly descended from the work of Ada Lovelace and
Charles Babbage, has evolved to the point where computers are able to
derive natural laws, which may otherwise be inaccessible by current science,
from observed data by discovering “invariants” – mathematical expressions
that remain true in a changing system.
26. Brahmagupta (598-670) - seventh century Indian mathematician and
astronomer who was the first to use zero and develop rules for use of zero
and negative numbers.
27. Tortoise – as well as having one of the longest lifespans of any terrestrial
animal, hinting of Darwin’s travels in the Galapagos, and being key to the
common expression used to describe infinite regress in cosmology (“turtles
all the way down”), the tortoise represents Zeno’s (~450 B.C.) paradox of
motion illustrated by his parable of Achilles and the Tortoise.
28. Kurt Godel (1906-1978) – Mathematician who established his
Incompleteness Theorems that mathematically prove that there are problems
that cannot be solved by any set of rules or procedures. We have
paraphrased this to mean that there is no singular unifying solution.
29. Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951) - our saint of immaculate immortality died of
cancer in the 1950s; however, her biopsied cells became the first immortal
human cell line, not only surviving to this day, but saving countless lives
through the medical research they allowed. The square halo signifies that
the wearer is still living on earth when the tapestry was woven and has not
yet been officially sainted.
30. see above in “The Border”
31. see above in “The Border”
32. see above in “The Border
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