Meteor Sightings Reframed, 2022


#10 Periastra : Participants : Nicola Rae

Nicola Rae's interdisciplinary art practice engages with scientific and natural processes explored in installations that include digital technologies, analogue equipment, physical computing and found objects.

Since 2008, a series of installations visualising the sonic have responded interactively to a variety of acoustic sources and microphones picking up co-produced sound as well as site responsive experimentation. Other sound frequency installations have responded to online recordings of electro-acoustic phenomena as well as interdisciplinary collaborations with scientists and their research data.

Collectively initiating and co-curating exhibitions with others has become another important aspect of her working process as an artist. Encouraging longer set up times that allow for on-site experimentation and collaboration is of continuing interest.

About the artwork

'Meteor Sightings Reframed' 2022

The meteor sightings in this installation were recorded by a community of amateur astronomers that form part of the citizen scientist project UK Meteor Observation Network (UKMON). With over 100 cameras networked across the UK running open-source software using Raspberry Pi 4, they engage in collaborative teamwork to triangulate where meteors have fallen as well as the open sharing of data. As they note: 'Amateur astronomers have always made a significant contribution to the field of meteor astronomy from its earliest beginnings through visual observations' (UKMON, 2022).

UKMON's films have been reframed through being back projected onto weathered aluminium portholes salvaged from a WWII concrete minesweeper in Essex, throwing images forwards and backwards within the space. The installation continually shifts focus between porthole screens, allowing the transitory appearances of meteors and fireballs to retain an unpredictability of presence and trajectory.

Investigations into Herschel's 20 foot telescope informed the A frame scaffolding structures erected to support the portholes. William and Caroline Herschel are referenced as amateurs whose obsessive curiosity led to them becoming valued professional astronomers.