The Illuminated Field
The Illuminated Field was made while Leslie Eastman was undertaking an Australia Council studio residency in Spain in 2014. This version of the work developed for Islamic Museum of Australia is a four screen video installation that documents light from dawn till dusk at Abengoa Solar, Europe’s first commercial power station, at Solucar in Andalucía. The solar power plant uses several acres of mirrored heliostats, which follow the sun throughout the day and redirect that light towards a central tower to generate electricity.
Whilst the work may be understood as a celebration of this sublime technology and sustainable solar energy, other meanings may be drawn from the context of the site and the location of the exhibition itself. Andalucía is a threshold between Europe and North Africa and contains many remnants from 700 years of Islamic occupation, evidenced in agricultural planting, irrigation systems, buildings and language. Granada, with its magnificent Alhambra palaces is in close proximity.
In Islam, light—Nur—has a prized relationship to both science and spirit. Islamic optics and geometry address multiplicity and unity within the notion of Divine illumination. For the artist, parallels between the site at Solucar and this larger cultural context are evident in the aesthetics and simplicity of the solar technology. Whilst the video observes the serene operation of the power station, placing this within the context of the Museum opens a deeper conversation with Islamic thought which champions environmental stewardship and the contemplation of nature, time and light as signs of the greatest context and reality.