Currently in London, two exhibitions shrouded in mystery and silence, emerged in high-qualified artistic practices, centered on two networks – Lumen and Super-Collider. Both exhibitions are interested in investigating the relationship between Art and Science mediated by cosmological visions, where the light plays a fundamental role for an understanding of the real. Curiosity is in fact, the determining factor which leads us to observe the constellations of images on show, to the limit and beyond the threshold of the visible.
The exhibitions Lumen # 2 dark from night and Aether are two parallel projects, aimed by the objective of observing the relationships between art and astronomy through drawing, photography, video and installation. Curated by Melanie King, Louise Beer and Raymond Hemson, artists and curators, the collective is a chance to reflect upon new ways of knowing and classifying the Universe, advanced by technical, technological and artistic discoveries. In this perspective, a particular attention is given to the research of photographic techniques that from their origins, have been utilized for these purposes. The refined layout, common to both the exhibitions, also emphasizes the bond that link the Earth and the Sky, reflecting the human existential condition, according to minimalist references.
The space dedicated to # 2 from dark night, or rather St John`s studio-crypt in Bethnal Green, London, perfectly explains the vision of Lumen, belonging to a more extensive itinerant project of exhibitions in major London`s churches. The overall mission is intended to examine the modes in which the human conceives existence, and the project is offered as a starting point for this dialogue, connecting reality with cosmos through the images. Melanie King clearly explains the underlining motivations in the exhibition catalogue, saying: “We are also inspired by historical representations of the light that are rooted in contemplations of the sublime and metaphysical, in both astronomical and religious imagery” followed by astronomer Bill Bryson`s words, : “There is something satisfying, I think, about the idea of light travelling for millions of years through space and just at the right moment as it reaches Earth someone looks at the sky and see it. ” The collective – including Louise Beer, Robert Bell, Doug Benfors, Anthony Carr, Jaden Hastings, Raymond Hemson, Melanie King, Costanza Isaza Martinez, Lara Morrell, Rob Olins, artists – captivates the viewer for the ability to establish imperceptible connections between the natural and the artificial, mimesis and the artistic representation. As one immerses in the bowels of the earth (the crypt), one can discover the cosmic order which regulate and influence the human being through images: a carefully selected series of videos and projections highlight this fluid connections, this circular energy, which looks back at the origins and star stuff.
Similar is the theme underlying Aether exhibition at the UAL showroom spaces in Holborn, presenting art-works from alumni and academics artists. The collective is intended to explore the fragility and the preciousness of human existence and the earth, in relation to the immeasurable greatness of the Universe, inspired by The Overview Effect documentary by The Planetary Collective, narrating the perceptual shift suffered by astronauts after seeing the globe surrounded by black nothingness. To open the exhibition, the luminous spark of Louise Beer`s photographic plate, which emerges from obscurity as the only point of reference beyond space-time. The same shift of perception belongs Jane Grisewood`s photographs – I see black light – documenting the eclipse in 2012, followed by the multimedia images by Lauren Franklin, who explores diverse space-time coordinates. The vision focuses on the lunar phases in Melanie King`s photography, such as for the circular series First light, and it continues in the Sophie Rickett`s images, highlighting a vivid contrast between light sources and darkness. Moreover, Robert Bell depicts the boundaries between micro and macro surfaces as well as the fascinating installation of lunar soil by Lara Morell. Other exhibited works reflect upon the connections between human existence and the universe, at the center of scientific and technological research. This is the case of David Moore`s photography looking at the early-stage of the Space`s discovery, and of Jaden Hastings`s video, referring to a certain idea of technological sublime. At the end, the exhibition also advances hypothesis of innovative explorations through satellite-pictures by Jon Clair and surreal, mechanical creatures by Sarah Fortais.
It is clearly interesting to note that key issues such as Light, Earth, Cosmos, and more widely Art, Astronomy and Science, are constantly at the center of research in order to re-think the categories that define knowledge. It is even more exciting to think of these artistic projects if exhibited during the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015. Lumen will continue the debate during an artistic residency in Atina, Frosinone in September 2015: an ideal setting for the observation of lunar and astronomical phenomena, thanks to such a favorable, natural scenario. Conceived and developed by artists, critics and curators interested in these topics, the residence will be a great chance to define the future projects involving arts and the cosmological observation.
7 April – 5 July 2015, UAL Showroom, University of the Arts London, 272 High Holborn, London
Lumen: artists: Louise Beer, Robert Bell, Doug Benford, Anthony Carr, Jaden Hastings, Raymond Hemson, Melanie King, Costanza Isaz Martinez, Lara Morrell, Rob Olins.
Aether: curators: Melanie King, Loiuse Beer; artists: Sophy Rickett, Sarah Fortais, Lauren Franklin, Jared Davis, Lara Morrell, Louise Beer, Jaden Hastings, Robert Bell, Jane Grisewood, David Moore, Melanie King, Jon Clair.
Sara Buoso is a PhD student in Criticism and Curation at at UAL, Central Saint Martins, London. Research title: What Does Light Frame? Investigating the Meanings and the Practices of Light-matter in Contemporary Arts. The aim of research is intended to examine the language and the ethical dimensions of contemporary light-related practices. From an extensive experience in Art Education in Venice and Rome, she is developing curatorial practices. Since 2007, she is a regular contributor of Juliet Art Magazine and other art-magazines.