The Enigma of the Sun

Every day the faraway, blisteringly hot, mysterious ball of gas that is the sun, dips below the horizon. For a few hours, we simply cannot see it. from our sight. This is the source of spiritualism and myth, science, fear; and nearly everything we depend on; energy, food, electricity, and so on; in the strange moment that it “fall asleep,” artists awake.

It’s the role of the photographer to frame this moment. There is a communal hum we make as humans when the sun vanishes; thinking perhaps, where did it go? Who can see it now? Photographers can capture the raw beauty emitted by the eternal beast of the sun.

Penelope Umbrico is a New York artist who has developed several works on the subject.

She believes the lure of sunset photography is not quite an complex as one may think.

Umbrico’s work questions the sun’s power to enhance collectivity.  For her project, she curated sunset photos from Flickr. Then, she cropped them to remove the surrounding context, whether it be the beach or a smiling portrait, leaving only the suns themselves. The resulting work is a vibrant collage that stands as a testament to our desire to preserve these “liminal moments as a social experience” as stated by Jonny Weeks in the Guardian.

Umbrico says “The sun is this incredibly powerful object, and there’s only one of them in our world,” she says. “The sun can kill us or give us health. It’s the symbol of enlightenment, it makes us happy – it’s phenomenal.”

See the rest of Brendan’s images on Flickr.