Between Worlds

Through a University module I learned about the process of discovering exoplanets through a method called Gravitational Microlensing. This exploits a phenomenon that occurs when a massive sun comes into the path between Earth and another sun. This causes the light passing through to bend and distort, allowing us to discover information about orbiting planets behind it. Fascinated with the idea of this light distortion, I began a series of experiments using photography and video that would allow me to explore this idea. Using a small glass bottle and a macro lens, I created an initial series of photographs.

 

The University has an excellent Museum Collections resource, which is available to use for research and development purposes. I had spent some time working with them in the past, using objects form their collections to help with some of my own projects. During these research sessions I had come across a fascinating object called a pyrheliometer. This is aa scientific instrument for measuring the intensity and duration of sunlight, consisting of a glass sphere held in a brass and plastic casing. I thought there was an interesting connection between this basic instrument for measuring our own Sun and our attempts to measure light from stars that are galaxies away. Using this device to expand on my previous experiments, I placed some of the earlier photographs inside it and photographed them through the object.

The resulting images are ones that blur the lines between macro and micro, discs of colour and shape that could easily be representative of a petri dish or a view through a microscope, creating an uncertainty that is mirrored in our own existence and knowledge about the Universe.