Michael Boran: The Palace of Bubbles

  February –
March 1999

Image by Michael Boran from the exhibition The Palace of Bubbles at the Gallery of Photography

Michael Boran’s extraordinary new work is all about bubbles . On entering the main chamber of his Palace of Bubbles protean associations bubble up: cell biology , space probes , Moorish architecture, the world economy,70s retro, worker bees, the boy in the bubble, afterimages, innocence, moments of epiphany, memory, the passing of time ……..

Image from the exhibition The Palace of Bubbles at the Gallery of Photography

Image from the exhibition The Palace of Bubbles at the Gallery of Photography

In the practice of meditation, thoughts are regarded as a flow of bubbles, rising into consciousness. And there is certainly a meditative quality to the Palace, the images , being free of fixed co-ordinates mean that we could be looking from either end of a telescope – at a single electron, or the expanding cosmos. Or through a time bubble, we could be witnessing the creation of Life itself as it emerged with a plop from the primal soup, billions of years ago .
At times awesomely beautiful, at others even slightly menacing, Boran’s bubbles set us off on a series of journeys into the architecture of imagery. We could start with the bubble images made from melted photographic film. Here, the film itself, usually eclipsed by the imprint of ‘content’ is revealed as a veil, a lattice of bubbles. We embark on a microscopic voyage into the film, into the beautiful madness of pure pattern and design that underpins all representation. You get the sense that those patterns, also presented in a series of ‘blueprints’ are the abstracted designs upon which Nature regenerates itself.

Image from the exhibition Palace of Bubbles at the Gallery of Photography

Image from the exhibition Palace of Bubbles at the Gallery of Photography

Throughout the work there is a playful insistence on exploring the blindspots of western perspective representation. In the outdoor projection piece, the fixity of the ‘eye’ in the perspective model is taken to extremes – with humourous consequences. Or, in pop mode, Bubble Projectile throws us into the photon chaos inside a giant eye. Or again, more lyrically, in the Exploded Projector installation we can dwell in the upside-down memory world of the glass globe/lens; we can see the inside of a light bulb, another bubble of sorts.

In their promiscuous masquerade bubbles confound the positive certainties of the perspective system, de-coupling the conjoined orders of perception and representation. Poised at the close of the photographic century, Michael Boran’s new work opens up a space between the burden of representation and the dizzying freedom of pure pattern.
Washing up will never be the same.