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Dark River I, physically manipulated digital print,
Section 1: 9 x 3 m, mirror

Installation view: ArthouSE1, London, 2019.
Credit: Benjamin Deakin
Dark River I is part of a site-responsive series of sculptural works using one of the largest images ever made of the Milky Way’s central areas. Obtained with the VISTA survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, the image is 108,200 by 81,500 pixels and contains nearly nine billion pixels [1]. Dark River I presents a second section measuring 11.1 x 2.2 metres and sculpts it into nebulous formations against mirrors.

Mirrors make reference to this material’s dual nature in both science and fiction. Mirros are the primary light gathering component within most major reflecting telescopes, as well as illusory objects in folklore and fiction. The mirror acts as a portal, hints at other dimensions.

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.