The very inaccessibility of Space lends itself to speculation, interpretation, and differing conceptual inhabitations. These often fictional narratives extend into how we view the world in all of its aspects; social, philosophical and metaphysical. Consisting often of the most flimsy of evidence; a few grains of photographic emulsion, a mathematical tower of cards or an ethical conviction, this arena lends itself towards wide horizons of enquiry. The charting of this world has only just begun, using heroic yet barely adequate tools as well as audacious attempts at understanding.
AstroLAB is an exhibition as laboratory that includes art works by twenty international artists. Each artist has been invited to freely interpret aspects of the astronomical and these works inform each other through juxtaposition, spatiality and sound. Some works have been generated experimentally in a few days specifically for this show, while others have been the result of research over a longer length of time.
One of the roles of an artist is to generate the conceptual freedoms necessary to enable an aesthetic apprehension of alternative ideas. Sometimes this requires approaching the subject obliquely, so as to catch it unawares. And so it is with the mapping of alternative directions in our understanding of the astronomical. This can take the form of inversions, metaphor and the questioning of collective cultural understandings and theories. Our Laboratory aspires to engage with all of these possibilities within a 'Planetarium of the Imagination'.
AstroLAB came together in 7 days. Since hearing that the project had been selected by the APT Gallery Committee, we had been furiously engaged in contacting artists through our extended networks. Also included are a number of recent postgraduates whose work reflects the concepts of the exhibition.
With today's modes of communication and networking this means that we can interact with artists at much greater speed, depth and flexibility than before. Artists can now transmit digital files and working instructions online for us to print and assemble their work, or send physical work to us on a 'next day' freight basis. As with other exhibitions that we have curated, the core of the communication process is the website and this is one of the first aspects to be generated.
But most of all this is a fun thing to do and it is a delight to work together with other artists to generate an exhibition. Some we have worked with over a number of decades and some we meet for the first time. We hope to move this project forward and extend it into future years.
Curators: Paul Malone and Nicola Rae