This documentation was made while The Cosmoscope and The Retrospectroscope were on view as part of the Timeless Motion exhibition at SOMArts in San Francisco From February 18 to May 23rd. This exhibition was part of the Curatorial Commons Residency sponsored by SOMArts.
The Cosmoscope was funded by the Princess Grace Foundation Special Projects Grant- 2015- 2016
Kerry Laitala, Scott Stark, Antonella Bonfanti, Kathleen Quillian and Mark Wilson
Re-mounted on its twentieth anniversary, “The Retrospectroscope” presents moving images as sculpture, unshackled from their usual constrictions of linear time. This kinetic sculpture simulates the illusion of cinematic motion, and was described in the SF Bay Guardian as a “UFO/roulette wheel of Athenian proportions.” “The Retrospectroscope” represents a simulation of motion analysis in the lineage of proto-cinematic devices of the nineteenth century. I’m inspired by Eadweard Muybridge and Étienne-Jules Marey, and other pioneers who were interested in capturing and freezing slivers of time. “The Retrospectroscope” apparatus was first constructed in cinema’s centenary year, 1996, and has been displayed at the San Francisco Art Institute, The Lab, and Artists’ Television Access. Partial funding for the Retrospectroscope was provided by the San Francisco Art Institute as part of their 125th Anniversary Grant.
“The Cosmoscope” is a kinetic sculpture that explores how observing extreme distance complicates our understanding of the relationship between space and time. By animating images of nebulae and other interstellar phenomena from the edges of our visible universe, “The Cosmoscope” investigates relative aspects of time as well as the perceptual illusion of motion using photographs from NASA’s Hubble telescope among other images. The extraordinary truth of astronomy is that to look outward into space is to look backward into time. As light travels at a set speed, when we view objects millions of light years away, the light reaching us now has been traveling for millions of years. The stars we see at night are stars from our universe’s past. “The Cosmoscope” explores the ways in which objects viewed from a vast distance are experienced on a totally different time scale.
The basic phenomena of the combined physics of frequency of light, velocity, and the intricate human perceptual processes of persistence of vision and apparent motion, help to fuse still images together to create several cyclical constructions. The series of images constructed are printed onto transparencies affixed to a circular lexan sheet in a concentric fashion, one ring of images informing the next. The device allows the viewer to experience the cyclical aspects of time as well as the perceptual illusion of motion. All of the rings of images can be interpreted from the outer ring to inner ring or in the reverse direction. The surface of the disk becomes the matrix upon which various associations develop between consecutive rings. Images provided by the following: NASA Hubble Heritage team (Aura/STScl), the SOHO Project (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory,) NASA’S Goddard Space Flight Center, Godard Media Studies, and Chandra, (NASA’s X-Ray Observatory), Marshall Space Flight Center X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wesleyan Univ./R.Kilgard.
The Cosmoscope was funded by the Princess Grace Foundation Special Projects Grant- 2016
Plexiglass disc with silver gelatin transparencies on rotating motor
5’ diameter disk x 4' height
Partial funding for the Retrospectroscope was provided by the San Francisco Art Institute as part of their 125th Anniversary Grant- 1996
The Retrospectroscope was previously installed at the following San Francisco venues:
San Francisco Art Institute Vernissage, Fort Mason Herbst Pavilion- 1997
The Lab- 2000
Artists' Television Access- November- 2008
Thanks To: Brian Darr, Yvonne Ho, Jennie Laitala, Bonnie Levinson, Laura Montgomery, Jon Oxford, Rosario Sotelo and The San Francisco Art Institute
Lexan disc with transparent images on rotating motor
6’ diameter disk x 5’ height
Thanks to: Brian Darr, Yvonne Ho, Bonnie Levinson, Jon Oxford, Neal Johnson, Chris Paddock, Rachael Polokoff and Rosario Sotelo