FIRST LIGHT; 

Mixed Media, 2012 - Ongoing


1.
The first use of a telescope to take an astronomical image after it has been constructed.

2. The light emitted from the first generation of hyper-stars, formed less than a billion years after the Big Bang.


My research project 'First Light' focuses on the parallel histories of photography and astronomy since the 19th Century, and explores how the study of light may have contributed to the invention of photography.
First Light also explores how the study of light may contribute to our contemporary understanding of the universe and dark matter.

My arts practice is driven by investigations of light interacting with matter. I am conducting a series of analogue photography experiments to find out how light travelling from celestial objects can affect photosensitive material.


First Light was first inspired by the Envisioning the Universe seminar at the Royal Observatory in 2013, and complimented by regular visits to The Royal Astronomical Society and the UCL Space History Archive.

My practical research plays with the notion of proof in science and photography, specifically in the field of aesthetics and astronomy.

I have been training in printmaking alongside Peter Moseley, an expert printmaker. Peter’s research is focused on how the materiality of early photographic processes can affect the reading of an image, and I am keen to extend these ideas to astronomical images.

During a residency at Four Corners Darkroom in Bethnal Green, I exhibited a selection of NASA / archival images printed in different formats, and asked the viewer to record their perception of the image.

First Light has been exhibited at The Royal Society Summer Exhibition 2015, Aether at UAL Showroom Gallery, Capturing Light at The Silverprint Gallery, Four Corners Gallery, Article Gallery in Birmingham and various Lumen exhibitions.

 “To produce the highly polished images for which the Hubble is famous, astronomers must make a series of decisions that combine scientific interests with aesthetic concerns. (These astronomical images) engage with the history of astronomy and of observing the cosmos by looking back to past observations of these objects. They participate in debates about how best to observe and represent the universe, commenting on and ultimately influencing NASA’s decisions about their means of production”

Picturing the Cosmos: Hubble Telescope Images and the Astronomical Sublime
Elizabeth A Kessler.

"The relationship between the telescope and our understanding of the dimensions of the universe is in many ways the story of modernity. No other instrument has consistently addressed the question of our place in the universe as directly as the telescope. It's what the telescope does; it what we have refined it to do; address our place in the universe, literally. To size up all of space and figure out where we are in it."


Panek, R. Seeing and Believing: The Story of the Telescope, or How We Found Our Place In The Universe. Fourth Estate.

“The Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, was a celebration of progress in art, science and industry. The huge lens, designed to be used in an astronomical telescope, was a technical triumph by Chance and Co of Birmingham. The lens is a fitting symbol of the first international exhibition at which photographs were shown and the first to be recorded by photography. Photographs were exhibited in the Crystal Palace in the section devoted to ‘Philosophical Instruments’ alongside telescopes and other new inventions like the electric telegraph”


Mark Haworth-Booth, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Using Format