Katie Turnbull and Kit MacArthur
ISM is the result of a pairing with astronomer Graeme Wong over six weeks in the House of Wonder studios at Penrith Regional Gallery. Graeme’s area of focus is researching the molecular density of interstellar gas clouds and looking at initial conditions for star formation.
ISM pivots around several ideas: visualizing what is optically invisible to humans; connections and gaps between artist and scientist and consequently questions about how to communicate dense astronomy concepts.
Scientists take on dual roles, that of the observer and the communicator. Metaphor used in science communication is a valuable, evocative, cognitive tool. It uses already acquired knowledge to position new information in our frame of reference. As an artist, I often reach for what’s closest at hand to act as a stand in during explanation: objects from bags, desks or tables. When talking about the unseen, the intangible, the invisible and unfathomable scale of the universe, when we use metaphor, human centered scale and the tangible to explain these ideas, does this tether and constrain our understanding? Do these objects become embedded in our comprehension of the universe?
I rendered cross sections of scientist Graeme Wong’s desk in the same method he uses to look at sample areas of the gas clouds. The animation is an inquisitive look into Graeme Wong’s research, methods of investigation, measurement and ultimately how we perceive and relate to the Universe.
A chance coming together in the Cosmic Pond of Alan Smith (video) and Kit MacArthur (sound) at Allenheads Contemporary Arts during BEYOND 2018