ROMANCE



Colleen Billing
nothing is so vivid as a void that swallows your senses
June 23–Aug 23, 2023


Kirlian photography, also known as electrophotography or electrography, is a photographic technique with connections to both science and magic. Discovered in 1939 through observation of a patient receiving medical treatment from a high-frequency electrical generator, electrophotography produces an image resembling an aura around an object, and was believed by its originators to depict a metaphysical energy field surrounding all living things—or an image of the organism’s soul. The possibility that these images verified a life force reflecting emotional and physical states corresponds to the use of electrophotography in parapsychology research—a field studying paranormal experiences, such as telepathy, precognition, extrasensory perception, clairvoyance, and apparitions.

For this series of photos, plants often used in early herbalism were placed on a conductive surface and energized by a high-voltage power source. Photographed through an insulated discharge plate, the resulting images capture the electrical current surrounding the plant. A visible electrical current flows between the charged objects occurs when the strength of the electric field around a conductor exceeds the dielectric strength of the air. Used to capture this corona discharge around an object, Kirlian photography is highly sensitive to fluctuations in heat, moisture, and frequency. It makes visible the negative space around and in-between things. The invisible, imperceptible phenomenon is a reminder that a scientific understanding of the world, and a mystical one, are not entirely opposed. All science is fictive until it is accepted by the establishment.

The conductive aluminum panels are made in the image of early Jacquard punch cards, a precursor to the technology used in early computational machines. Each panel is inscribed with an abbreviated quotation from 14th century heretical mystic, Maguerrite Porete’s devotional text, The Mirror of Simple Souls, with words of divination translated into binary code. Recycled steel oil drums play a choir of stressed tomatoes. Recently captured by scientists, the down-sampled audio recordings capture the ultrasonic noise of the plants when left without water. If all living things emit an unseen energetic frequency, perhaps there really does lie a potential of cross-species communication—one in which the human self dissolves. As is often the case in Billing’s practice, the work favors the sensorial, highlighting the potential in the imperceptible. Holes store information, nothing matters.

Colleen Billing (b. 1991) is an artist and writer living and working in New York. She received her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. She has participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, LMCC Arts Center and Vermont Studio Center. Recent exhibitions include The Mirror of Simple Souls, Inadequate Lighting, Baltimore, MD, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Benefit Exhibition, curated by Sonia Louise Davis, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York, NY, There was earth in them, and they dug., curated by Nicole Kaack, Miriam Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Nightshade : a love story, written with Esther Sibiude, Montez Press, New York, NY, THE ENEMY KNOWS THE SYSTEM, Motel, Brooklyn, NY,  and Sister Genus, Bad Water, Knoxville, TN.




Installation view. Photo: Justin Boyd




Installation view. Photo: Sean Carroll




X
, 2023
Hardware, electroplated organic material
6 ½ x 5 in.
Dimensions variable
Photo: Justin Boyd



Matter outside themselves (Begonia)
, 2023
Framed electrograph, conductive aluminum
21 x 30 ½ in
Photo: Sean Carroll




Installation view. Photo: Justin Boyd




Channelers
, 2023
Cast pewter
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll




Channelers, 2023
Cast pewter
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll




Channelers (detail)
, 2023
Cast pewter
Dimensions variable
Photo: Justin Boyd




Installation view. Photo: Chris Uhren



Conduits (detail),
2023
Glass, silicone,  centaurea, foraged plants
Dimensions variable
Photo: Justin Boyd




Installation view. Photo: Sean Carroll




Conduits (detail)
, 2023
Glass, silicone,  centaurea, foraged plants
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll




Conduits (detail)
, 2023
Glass, silicone,  centaurea, foraged plants
Dimensions variable
Photo: Justin Boyd




Channelers
, 2023
Cast pewter
Dimensions variable
Photo: Chris Uhren




Channelers
, 2023
Cast pewter
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll







Feeling the current (Aquilegia)
, 2023
Framed electrograph, conductive aluminum
21 x 30 ½ in.
Photo: Sean Carroll





Repletion and the abyss and the full (Datura)
, 2023
Framed electrograph, conductive aluminum
21 x 30 ½ in.
Photo: Sean Carroll





This changing by which we are changed (Ergot)
, 2023
Framed electrograph, conductive aluminum
21 x 30 ½ in
Photo: Sean Carroll





I love nothing (Trifolium pretense)
, 2023
Framed electrograph, conductive aluminum
21 x 30 ½ in.
Photo: Sean Carroll





Matter outside themselves (Begonia)
, 2023
Framed electrograph, conductive aluminum
21 x 30 ½ in
Photo: Sean Carroll





Me, without herself, for she (Artemisia)
, 2023
Framed electrograph, conductive aluminum
21 x 30 ½ in
Photo: Sean Carroll





Matter or being (Garlic)
, 2023
Framed electrograph, conductive aluminum
21 x 30 ½ in.
Photo: Sean Carroll




Matter or being (Garlic) (detail)
, 2023
Framed electrograph, conductive aluminum
21 x 30 ½ in.
Photo: Justin Boyd




Installation view. Photo: Justin Boyd




Installation view. Photo: Chris Uhren



Floater
, 2023
Stainless steel float valve, electroplated datura seed, solder, hardware
15 x 7 x 5 1/2 in.
Photo: Sean Carroll




Floater (detail)
, 2023
Stainless steel float valve, electroplated datura seed, solder, hardware
15 x 7 x 5 1/2 in.
Photo: Sean Carroll




Installation view. Photo: Justin Boyd




Installation view. Photo: Justin Boyd




Conduits
, 2023
Glass, silicone, electroplated organic material, centaurea, foraged plants
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll



Conduits
(detail), 2023
Glass, silicone, electroplated organic material, centaurea, foraged plants
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll




Conduits,
2023
Glass, silicone, electroplated organic material, centaurea, foraged plants
Dimensions variable
Photo: Justin Boyd




Installation view. Photo: Justin Boyd




Conduits
(detail), 2023
Glass, silicone, electroplated organic material, centaurea, foraged plants
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll




Conduits
, 2023
Glass, silicone, electroplated organic material, centaurea, foraged plants
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll



Conduits 
(detail), 2023
Glass, silicone, electroplated organic material, centaurea, foraged plants
Dimensions variable
Photo: Justin Boyd




Psychic women
, 2023
Recycled steel oil drums, tactile transducers, choir of down-sampled audio recordings of the ultrasonic airborne sound of a tomato plant under stress*, warm light
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll




Psychic women
(detail), 2023
Recycled steel oil drums, tactile transducers, choir of down-sampled audio recordings of the ultrasonic airborne sound of a tomato plant under stress*, warm light
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll




Psychic women
(detail), 2023
Recycled steel oil drums, tactile transducers, choir of down-sampled audio recordings of the ultrasonic airborne sound of a tomato plant under stress*, warm light
Dimensions variable
Photo: Sean Carroll




Installation view. Photo: Sean Carroll




Conduits
(detail), 2023
Glass, silicone, electroplated organic material, centaurea, foraged plants
Dimensions variable
Photo: Justin Boyd




Installation view. Photo: Justin Boyd