In nature, symmetry occurs only in approximation. It exists in recognizable modes such as radial symmetry in starfish or most flowers, which are symmetrical on rotational axes, and in bilateral, mirrored forms, as in butterflies and the human face. These forms of symmetry are first present at molecular, cellular, and embryonic levels, but it is the process of symmetry breaking that shapes every organism’s growth: plants and animals break from the genetic patterning of their predecessors, destroying old patterns to create new ones.
Symmetry breaking is fundamental to the creation of new life and is a concept mirrored in the photographs of Melissa Watt, whose composite images reflect and transform the natural world into new realms. The photographed natural world begins its transformation through its reflection across a vertical axis, creating imaginative, bilaterally symmetrical environments that are expansive and uncanny. Their digital manipulation renders this symmetry perfect but through careful selection, Watt introduces new elements taken from numerous other photographs to begin the process of symmetry breaking and the formation of new worlds. What results are large-scale, visual stories with a studied attention to the natural world — in full bloom, or as dying or dead organisms from locations as varied as the artist’s yard to the Everglades and Spain.
In these impossible settings, Watt creates fantastical scenes populated by plants and animals. Like illustrations in fairy tales or fables, there are decorative, patterned frames that border each photograph, taken from elements in the composition or other photos. These, too, are symmetrical, and invite an immersion into the harmonies and broken symmetries of each photograph. In these works, Watt strikes a measured balance between the beauty of the natural world and imaginative fictions therein, creating worlds and stories anew.
Set of 10 panoramic postcards
3.25 x 8.25 inches
Printed in Lexington, KY at Post Printing
Includes an essay by Emma Friedman-Buchanan