Los Angeles-based artist Lia Halloran tests the boundaries between seeing, classifying, and reproducing deep-sky objects against those catalogued by French astronomer Charles Messier. Her new site-specific work, Deep Sky Companion, is both an adaptation and variation on the visual data comprising Messier’s 110 deep sky objects that he observed in his attempt to chart comets (when, in fact, he had “accidentally” observed whole galaxies and interstellar nebulae).
Halloran’s exhibition site is architect Thom Mayne's building for the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology. Slanted ceilings, extreme planes, and every possible expression of asymmetry are ideal settings for Halloran’s iterations of Messier’s amorphous cosmic bodies. The works climb upwards through three stories at varying distances from the viewer; installation directly mimics the inherent difficulty a person would experience in looking at objects in deep space. Halloran collaborated with architect David Ross, of the Frederick and Fisher Partners Architects and past student of Thom Mayne, on the physical and structural layout of the exhibition.
Deep Sky Companion is on view at The Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Caltech in Pasadena June 5th- December 18th, 2016. This exhibition has been made possible by the generous support of Dr. and Mrs. David Groce, the Caltech Department of Astronomy and by Chapman University and the Office of the Chancellor’s Scholarly and Creative Activity Grant. The installation of 'Deep Sky Companion' is accompanied by a catalog containing contributions from; Lia Halloran, Shana Beth Mason, Kip Thorne, Sterl Phinney, Shane L. Larson, Mansi M. Kasliwal, Lynne Hillenbrand, Dr. Christine Corbett Moran, Joe Lazio, and Chiara M. F. Mingarelli with design by Claudine Jaenichen.
Special gratitude to; Ann Rho, Sterl Phinney, David Ross, Jennifer Seo and Kip Thorne for being instrumental in actualizing this project.