The Night Sea series really began in Berlin in 1977. In December the Northern darkness descends and one is reminded of a time when Medieval man stayed indoors for the month. I found myself without a sun-filled landscape for the first time. I spent the days in the Dahlem Museum looking at the dark Rembrandts and Goya’s; and was particularly struck by the late Goya etchings of the strange creatures flying through the night. A small stone relief of Jacob’s ladder with men going from the neither world to heaven to the neither world and back also caught my eye. I though a lot about the descent of Orpheus, and Christ into the underworld. I kept imagining myself at the bottom of the Bardo tankas, and wandering through the lower infernos of Bosch paintings.
There is a myth call the Night Sea Journey, the most popular being Jonah and the whale. The hero is swallowed, and taken to the bottom of the sea. He frees himself by lighting a fire, and emerges transformed by the experience. I had a dream in which I was on an island and floating in a black sea in the dark. Sea turtles and scientists were guiding me through the waters showing me the beauty of the sea at night. The week I returned to New York from Berlin, I got a grant to go to Australia. There I did my first night diving, and the Night Sea Series began.