Jessica Douglas: Harry Culy, ‘Event Horizon’

Essay by Jessica Douglas on Harry Culy, Event Horizon

The subject of Harry Culy’s works is an apparent contradiction. On the one hand, the sea and infinite horizon is calming. No matter what happens today or tomorrow, or even years from now, the sea and steady horizon offer a reassuring promise to always be there. However, on the other hand, the unending horizon is also daunting. Like the vastness of outer space, the thought of an ocean so endless and powerful can fill us with dread and anxiety. What could go wrong out there? Everything and nothing.

The exact location of this site is The Gap on South Head Peninsula in Eastern Sydney. Culy began photographing this area in 2014. Here he would capture the different light, colours, movements, weather and atmosphere of the sea at various times of day but with the same composition in order to test and find its moods. These works exist as part of Culy’s ongoing series The Gap, but here they specifically form part of the show Event Horizon at Parlour Projects. 

Aptly named, this title relates to an astronomical term. ‘Event horizon’ is the boundary in spacetime marking the limit of a black hole. Also known as ‘the point of no return’, this is the position at which events cannot affect an outside party. Nothing inside the event horizon, for instance light, can ever cross the boundary and escape beyond it, and vice versa. Culy says, “When you stand on the cliff you visually get pulled towards the horizon, even though there is nothing there: the absence of any event.”

Standing before Culy’s horizon, we mark the end of the boundary. What happens beyond this point is something we can only imagine. Whether one finds this thought meditatively calming or anxiety-inducing belongs entirely to the viewer. 

Jessica Douglas: Harry Culy, ‘Event Horizon’