Ouroboros, Julie Mann


The human brain has an uncanny ability to see patterns and make connections based on the world we’ve experienced. That is one reason optical illusions work, and why we see digital images and Pointillist paintings as something more than mere collections of dots. Much of that experience of the world is broadly shared, and is reflected in art.

Dating back at least to Ancient Egypt, the Ouroboros appears in a surprisingly diverse range of cultures over many millennia. Whether in the art of Alchemists, Gnostics, Norse Mythologists, Hindus, Mesoamericans, or even Indian or Jewish lore, the meaning of the Ouroboros seems strikingly similar. The serpent – or dragon – devouring its own tail is said to have been a symbol of infinity, eternity, wholeness, unity, renewal, and the ever-repeating cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

The panels in this piece are, like the dots in a Pointillist painting or the pixels in a digital image, discrete individual units, and are – as many of us have been over the past year – separated in space with missing connections. Yet, seemingly improbably, the Ouroboros is experienced as a complete whole – a testament to the human mind and it’s irrepressible drive to make connections