Personal work - Fallen angels
Fallen Angels are portraits of meteorites collected from around the globe. The subjects of my photographs are moulded by time, the laws of nature and chance. Two durationally extreme timelines can be discerned in this process: the formation of the objects in space over billions of years, and their sudden metamorphosis as they strike the atmosphere and finally fall to the Earth.
imagine / this piece of rock / a meteorite
as a word broken from
a long sentence / imagine that
it might carry
an echo of a story
it once told
Poem by Aki Salmela
The gods circle the heavens at night, governing events on Earth as they pass. Observers of the starry skies have been watching events in the firmament for thousands of years, and every once in a while they see gods descending to Earth in fiery flames.
Many cultures have interpreted lights in the firmament as manifestations of the gods. Some four thousand years ago, early stargazers in ancient Mesopotamia noticed that the passage of the gods across the skies could be predicted. This was the birth of observational astrology.
Although the movements of the stars have been observed and recorded for millennia, heavenly events have also been associated with stories. Bolts of lightning were seen as weapons hurled by gods in Finland as well as in Greece, where Zeus was often depicted with a thunderbolt in his hand, while in Iran the god of the heavens wielded a club to smite his enemies. The God of the Old Testament may of course have also hurled thunderbolts onto sinners.
Sometimes the blow from a god reached all the way down to earth. Meteorites raining down from the skies were even more awe-inspiring than thunderbolts. One that struck the ground over two thousand years ago in Saaremaa, Estonia, may have left traces in The Kalevala, where in a song “the heavens are burst asunder” and a “red-ball” rushes down through nine starry vaults. According to a story from the other side of the Earth, the black stone of Kaaba descended from heaven and the sins of mankind turned it black from its original brilliant white.
The idea of meteorites as fallen angels recalls the early days of human religious experience. In the monotheistic tradition, Satan was originally a beautiful angel who was cast down from Heaven, burning on his way down and becoming black and ugly – like a luminous shooting star that is reduced to a black lump of stone by the time it reaches the ground. Yet some of its heavenly beauty may remain in the forms and structures of the stone if we look close enough.
Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Helsinki University
Fallen Angels are portraits of meteorites collected from around the globe. The subjects of my photographs are moulded by time, the laws of nature and chance. Two durationally extreme timelines can be discerned in this process: the formation of the celestial bodies in space over billions of years, and the sudden metamorphosis of the meteorites and the Earth’s crust caused by the impact. This metamorphosis can be distinguished as patterns, fusion crust and regmaglypts. On the other hand the impact structures on the face of the Earth have become part of the natural landscape during millions of years due to glacial erosion.
The temporal and spatial dimensions of these events are very difficult to grasp within the sphere of our finite human time. I wanted to photograph the objects in my own artificial space, as part of something enormous and infinitely old. The landscape photographs remind us of the beauty of nature and its randomness.
More information on meteorites can be found at collector Jarkko Kettunen's website Little Planets.