The work of Olivia Lennon (b. 1988) offers a dynamic model of the epistemology of the cosmos. Her watercolour images are carefully painted by hand with fine sable brushes, sometimes using only one or two hairs. Most of the watercolours Lennon uses are made of interference pigments. These pigments contain no colour in the usual sense as they are grains of the translucent mineral mica thinly electroplated in different thicknesses of titanium white. The thickness of the titanium determines the angle of refraction of light above the paint, creating the optical illusion of colour. This process of painting colour with light references a statement by John Ruskin from 1884 that ‘’Light is as much the ordering of intelligence as the ordering of vision’’.
This sentiment informs much of Lennon’s inquiry around the historical and contemporary ‘ordering’ of knowledge about the universe. Each of Lennon’s paintings present a different facet of observation or speculation around the working of time, telemetry, space or matter outside direct human influence. Lennon’s work is informed by the philosophical arguments of Heraclitus and Parmenides, the cosmological writings of Italo Calvino, the telemetry of satellites, and conflicting theories in particle physics.
To analyse what we see or think about the universe reveals much of human psychology; essentially whether we believe that the universe is inherently ordered or chaotic. Frequently, ordered views of the cosmos are built over history then disintegrated by unintuitive theories. The geocentric solar system is replaced by the heliocentric. Newtonian physics are replaced by general relativity, then by quantum physics. All encompassing models of knowledge seem to be deconstructed by competing chaotic details which then in turn establish new ordered principles.