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Dark River II, physically manipulated digital print,
Section 2: 11.1 x 2.2 m

Installation view: Of Stars & Chasms, ArthouSE1, London, 2019.
Credit: Benjamin Deakin

Dark River II 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 II presents a 11.1 x 2.2m section of this image but sculpts it into nebulous formations within a spiral staircase, requiring the viewer to physically trace a spiral around the image.

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.