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Dark River  Physically manipulated digital print, Section 1: 9 x 3 m
Installation view: Grizedale Sculpture

Note: Based on data products from observations made with ESO Telescopes at the La Silla or Paranal Observatories under ESO programme ID 179.B-2002.

Our galaxy, The Milky Way, crosses the night sky as a belt of soft lights and is hard to see when artificial light and pollution are present. Dark River is a sculptural work that maps, or mirrors this celestial entity within the gallery using one of the largest images ever made of its central areas, obtained with the VISTA survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.Dark River I presents a  section of this image but sculpts it into nebulous formations that flow through the space.

Referencing Elizabeth Kesseler’s notion of the astronomical sublime, as well as Gaston Bachelard’s idea of ‘intimate immensity’, the photographic image is reworked into an ‘affective space’ that affords a bodily and imaginative engagement with the viewer. The work questions how we come to know through the technology of the telescope and the naked eye. The forms the print has been manipulated into reference river-like qualities commonly associated with the Milky Way, as well as natural forms as a means to emphasise the connection between earth and cosmos.

The title Dark River also references the name given to the Milky Way by ancient cultures such as the Incas.

© Julie F Hill                   Curatorial