Charles Stankievech, excerpt from The Eye of Silence, 2022. Video, 30:00. Courtesy the artist. Collection of The Vega Foundation. Co-produced by The Vega Foundation.

The Eye of Silence suggests a hallucinatory blurring of the cosmic and the chthonic. Evoking critical moments in the Earth’s evolution, the work explores a series of antinomies: passages between creation and destruction, expansion and contraction, intrusion and extrusion, within and without, microcosm and macrocosm. The video marshals high atmospheric footage of the Albertan badlands, the Utah salt flats, Icelandic and Japanese volcanoes, and a meteorite crater and cave paintings located within a region of the Namib desert long closed off to visitors because of diamond mining. A field of stars becomes a point map of a LiDAR scan of a cave. At every polarity, the suggestion of a mystical inversion obtains, wherein a horizon or vanishing point unfolds to offer new vistas. An abyss, such as outer space, or some geological fissure, delivers a new world. Combining static camera, drone footage, and a mirrored screen, a churning mass of clouds, lava, and stone provides receptive viewers with ample grounds to project their own associations. Is that a face in the mist? In such moments, another antinomy is revealed—between subject and object, evidence and speculation. The Eye of Silence both depicts and implies metamorphosis on every level.

Mediating between stellar and subterranean motifs, fog, mist, clouds, and smoke venting from a fresh lava flow spill across the screen. At times it softens tough terrain, while elsewhere stimulating a trance-like pareidolia, or roiling within volcanic craters. The visual dynamism of air recapitulates not only the “invention of the concept of atmosphere in the history of meteorology,” but also the formation of the Earth’s atmosphere back in deep geologic time—in a word, to creation itself. The Eye of Silence calls forth otherworldly experience from within the depths and heights of this world, at the same time cultivating an aesthetic disposition to receive them.

—Nadim Samman and Dehlia Hannah, “Meteor-logos,” The Desert Turned to Glass: Charles Stankievech, Hatje Cantz, 2023.