A Field Guide to the Stars

2017 | curatorial project | exhibition at the Ballarat astronomical observatory | part of the core program of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, Australia

How do humans understand and imagine outer space? What technologies have shaped and expanded these perceptions of scale, distance and time? A Field Guide to the Stars pairs artworks and archival materials to explore how photography and related media operate within our shifting awareness of the cosmos.

Photography and astronomy have an intrinsic relationship, evidenced by technical advances and the collective imagination of space. For instance, photographs of the moon’s surface, including those in this exhibition from Lunar Orbiter V (1967), were crucial to making the 1969 moon landing possible. Whereas widely circulated and aesthetically compelling images of space, like nebulae captured from the Hubble Space Telescope, elicit curiosity and wonder in non-scientists. Astronomical observatories and archives bring together scientific evidence and the fanciful unknown, making them sites of discovery that hold cultural, historical, and symbolic weight. As a collection of astronomical photography and historical, scientific ephemera combined with contemporary photo-artistic practices, A Field Guide to the Stars explores the human impulse to orientate ourselves within the expanding universe.

participating artists:
Clare Benson
Alex Cherney
Kate Golding
Kate Robertson
Hillary Wiedmann
Eric William Carroll
Rebecca Najdowski

download PDF of catalog - includes essay by Colin Edgington