Twelve years ago while working on a collage outdoors, artist Dustin Yellin experienced a creative epiphany.
While attaching materials from nature to canvas with a sticky resin, a bee suddenly landed in the center of his composition. On a whim, the artist decided to pour resin over the insect, enrobing it in clear polymer.
That moment of spontaneous experimentation eventually led to the creation of "The Triptych," a mind-blowing tour de force on display at the SCAD Museum of Art as part of the Savannah College of Art and Design's deFINE 2014.
Loosely based on Hieronymous Bosch's legendary "Garden of Earthly Delights" triptych, this three-part, 12-ton diorama blends surreal cosmic scenes with off-the-charts technical mastery.
In this masterwork's museum debut, Yellin converts Bosch's nightmarish 16th-century representation of the ultimate price of human sin into a decidedly contemporary depiction of a physical and metaphysical apocalypse.
Crafted from more than 50 three-quarter inch cross-sections of glass and resin, these massive translucent blocks serve as windows into hallucinogenic worlds.
"The universe and the mind are shadowy places seething with dark magic, seas of boundless depth and possibility, overflowing with joy and disaster," Yellin says.
Packed with visual details and intricate hand-cut collages, "The Triptych" offers a horrific vision of the end of the world in a spectacular moment of divine reckoning.
This surrealistic spectacle serves as a powerful meditation on humankind's impotence when confronted with nature's awesome, uncensored force.
Yellin has described his narrative resin and glass work as "holograms trapped in amber."
Indeed, his 3-D diorama on display at the SCAD Museum of Art presents wildly imaginary landscapes and seascapes populated by monstrous animal-human hybrids, astronauts falling to Earth and leaping clouds of lantern fish with dagger-sharp teeth.
Using cut-out shapes combined in innovative ways, the artist crafts three mini-universes, each more terrifying than the next.
Like Bosch's infamous triptych, Yellin's work "reads" sequentially from left to right, depicting a three-step descent into hell. For this Brooklyn-based artist, the journey starts at the foot of an erupting volcano spewing plumes of fiery lava into the sky.
Near the base of the volcano stands a fountain overflowing with blood as children hold hands and gleefully dance in a circle.
Deep within a thicket of woods, men ride zebras as scantily clad women in S&M gear frolic through the trees.
The central block of resin depicts a kinetic scene at sea, which captures the vastness of the ocean as the spray blows into the wind.
The shore is populated by an army of mutant animal-human hybrids whose bodies tumble off the edge of the cliff. A defiant circle of battleships surrounds an oil rig straddling the open ocean as disfigured dragons soar overhead.
In the final crystalline block, a giant goddess-like figure, comprised of an anthropomorphic swirl of tiny cut-out objects, spews out black bile representing all the vomitous byproducts of contemporary society.
In a moment of cosmic intervention, this "deux ex machina" purges the symbols of civilization in a dizzying moment of cataclysmic violence.
In this surreal, dystopian tableau, material progress, humanity and technology are, quite literally, drowned in the roiling sea.
Does Yellin's "Triptych" offer a damning vision of the end of the world or a hopeful glimpse of its rebirth? See this provocative work for yourself and draw your own conclusions.