A Circle of Bluebirds - PHmuseum

A Circle of Bluebirds

Osheen Harruthoonyan


Atina Inferiore, Latium, Italy; Armenia

A Circle of Bluebirds re-imagines the history of the artist's family in Armenia and Italy through three different lenses: a telescope, a microscope, and the artist's imagination.

Photographs of the sun, Saturn, and the north star are infused with other-worldly images overlaid onto landscapes as themes of love, happiness and connection absent from the stories of Harruthoonyan's past create visions of a new earth.

On this other earth, bluebirds, an ancient symbol of love and happiness, take the place of distant stars. A young girl swallows a star, and, butterflies weave through constellations and space dust.

The Van Allen belt, a protective field between the realms of astronomy and biology, is the invisible circle holding the artist's vision together. In this belt, the creation, destruction and re-creation of energy is constantly occurring - not unlike the memories of the places where our families are born, and reborn, throughout generations.

While it cannot be seen with the naked eye, when the movement of this energy is translated into auditory waves, it sounds like a circle of birds chirping - proving that it is, perhaps, only our limited mentalities or methods that keep us from experiencing the new worlds awaiting just beyond the stories that defined our past.

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  • Starlings over Ararat - Toned gelatin silver print. Photographed in Khor Virap, Armenia, near the Turkish border. Overlayed photographs of starlings onto Mount Ararat using
    chemistry and jewellery making tools to probe into a question both scientific and surreal: what would earth appear like from the vantage point of a different world, if our existing laws of nature no longer existed?

  • Black Mountain - Toned gelatin silver print. Photographed on medium format film in Atina, Italy.

  • Flutter - Toned gelatin silver print. Photographed on 4x5 film.

  • Standing Waves - Toned gelatin silver print. The North Star, butterflies, constellations and chemical stains overlap on this image. Photographed in Atina, Italy on 4x5 and medium format film.

  • Radiant meteor shower - Toned gelatin silver print. In quantum mechanics, butterflies teach us that even the small flutter of a wing has invisible effects on unknown realities. Here, in a new kind of stratosphere made of four blended layers of the night sky, their movement leaves visible patterns, creating a permanent butterfly effect on the atmosphere above and around them, with the power to disrupt even nature’s oldest patterns with the beauty of something new.

  • Portal - Toned gelatin silver print. 35mm telescope photograph of the Andromeda Galaxy

  • Saturn from another Earth - Toned gelatin silver print. When we play with physical spaces, we also play with memory, merging ideas and realities into new worlds - like the one created here, from a photo of Saturn, taken through a telescope in Abruzzo, Italy, over a field of daisies in Ontario, Canada.

  • Act II Scene VIII - Toned gelatin silver print. Photos of space debris, dust and faraway galaxies are repurposed as floating worlds of their own, above a new plane of reality that challenges everything we hold as true based on the order of carbon-based nature. If these laws no longer exist, the artist asks us, what might we see?

  • A circle of bluebirds shines brightest - Toned gelatin silver print. Two 35mm negatives, layered and altered by hand, and printed in the darkoom.

  • Invisible man with a planet for a head - Toned gelatin silver print

  • Made of diamonds - Toned gelatin silver print

  • Electromagnetic - Toned gelatin silver print. Compared to other stars, the sun appears dull and insignificant - a small, non-binary nuclear reactor, next to other bigger and brighter balls of iron and gold. Here, it’s recreated with a texture and complexity that honors its unique existence. Stars are born out of chaos, but this one created order and meaning around itself. Here, it faces off with an unknown planet - perhaps one as chaotic as our own, actively turning the order nature has created back into senselessness, waiting to be made new.

  • Star Swallower - Toned gelatin silver print

  • In this dream she is terrified of the Pacific - Toned gelatin silver print.