The Optics of Space

Lucy Raven and James N. Kienitz Wilkins

Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre, Vantaa, Finland

August 18 & 19, 2018

The Optics of Space presents newly commissioned moving image works by Lucy Raven and James N. Kienitz Wilkins produced for the planetarium format. The planetarium context presents highly specific viewing conditions that distinguish it from other cinematic experiences and from exhibitions in science museums. In a sense, it is a permanent installation custom built for the dome projection of an audio-visual spectacle dedicated to imaging space.

Exploring the intervention that artworks can make into preexisting systems of meaning, this project asks how the spectatorial position of the viewer might be altered if the works presented in the planetarium are authored by practitioners invested in questions surrounding image production. Can the visual and narrative conventions of this context be opened up? Raven and Kienitz Wilkins engage a discourse around the spectatorial conditions of the planetarium context. As many of their projects have operated, the two newly commissioned works make present the optical apparatus and bring the spectator into the technological mechanisms that produce a particular way of seeing, proposing alternative approaches to vision.

New York-based artist Lucy Raven’s multidisciplinary works include moving image installations, performative lectures, photography and animation. Raven’s AO takes a microscopic look into the adaptive optics system being developed at the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab for the Giant Magellan Telescope. The work focuses on the resolution testing of precision silicon sensors produced at a custom lab onsite. These highly sensitive CCDs will be able to capture light reflected from the telescope’s massive mirror, and when combined with adaptive optics, present the promise to see far enough back in space and time to view the very origins of the universe.

James N. Kienitz Wilkins is a Brooklyn-based artist and filmmaker whose moving image works concern formal experimentation with image format and language, often reflecting on questions of access, production and technology. The Dynamic Range is a speculative essay film exploring the limits of perception through advances in camera technology, and the accompanying human presumptions which fuel such advancements.

The Optics of Space is co-commissioned by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York’s MOBIUS Fellowship Program and PUBLICS. New York-based curator Aily Nash did research in Helsinki in Summer 2017 as MOBIUS fellow at Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art. The Optics of the Space is the conclusion of this curatorial fellowship.