Interstellar’s nod to Salvador Dali’s Nuclear Mysticism

In 1952, Salvador Dali did a lecture tour series in the United States in order to publicize his new “Mystical Manifesto”.  By this time, Dali’s art and vision had developed along a very different line from the paranoid-critical method of his previous Surrealist framework.   In his manifesto, he outlined his new theory of art called “Nuclear Mysticism”, which combined the sciences with art and religion.  In Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus) 1953-1954, which perhaps best exemplifies Dali’s Nuclear Mysticism, a stunning, hyperreal figure of Christ is suspended in front of a cross-shaped hypercube with his arms outstretched.   The hypercube is a geometric construction of higher mathematics, which renders a four-dimensional object (which the human eye cannot see) into a three-dimensional space (an eight-sided cube or tesseract).  In Corpus, Dali creates a profound visual representation of the sublime by associating the boundless figure of Christ with the mysteries of the mathematical and the fourth dimension.

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014) curiously contains a similar intersection.  The protagonist, Cooper, realizes that the only way to save Earth and his children is to enter the black hole, Gargantuan, to retrieve the quantum data and send it back to NASA.  Once Cooper is inside, he finds a Tesseract structure that is in infinite replication of his daughter’s (Murphy) room, which was where he had made his emotionally-wrenching farewell to her.  Cooper realizes that the data he needs can only be understood from within the Tesseract structure through his deep emotional connection to his daughter, which is a physically quantifiable thing to the beings in the next dimension.   This bridge in Interstellar, which combines the scientific with the emotional consciousness of human beings, is similar to Dali’s metaphysical connection of the laws of the Universe, based on the atom.  He parallels the wonder of atomic structure as the center of scientific discovery with the transcendence of Christ as the center of the universe.

 

 

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