September 20th at Erie Art Gallery – Artwork by Kris Risto

“A blood-black nothingness began to spin . A system of cells interlinked within cells interlinked within cells interlinked within one stem. And dreadfully distinct against the dark, a tall white fountain played.”

Vladimir Nabokov 

Pale Fire


Disclaimer I’m about to ruin the book for you. 

In Pale Fire the fictional poet John Shade sees a tall white fountain during a near-death experience. The image somehow consoles him as proof of an afterlife. Later he reads about a woman in a magazine who came close to death, who also glimpsed a “tall white fountain”. Shade finds this woman to share this revelation with her, only to discover it was a misprint – it was not a “fountain” but a “mountain” that she saw. But the error changes nothing for him,  the image of the tall white fountain had meaning not because it had some objective significance, not because it was proof of an afterlife, but because Shade ascribed meaning to it. He endowed meaning to the experience. You see we are all poets in our own heads, carefully selecting words or images that have a personal significance. In a sense we are creating our own realities.


I read this book after hearing the quote in the film Bladerunner 2049, which is also about finding meaning in existence. 

The phrase itself  “A blood black nothingness began to spin” inspired in me both a sense of the universe coming into existence and a color pallet. The purity of white light (life) and the red of blood (death). White chalk and red pastel on a black background to produce a harsh unsettling image. 

These images of people, and animals are my attempt at finding significance, of reconciling consciousness with the nothingness. Ascribing meaning to the meaningless, as always expanding my own personal mythology.