Observatoires

Christoph Keller
September 25 – October 20, 2007

Message to the Extraterrestrials, 2007 (floor, left)

Dobsonian Telescope with pedestal, slide projection with telescope mounting, slide carrousel with timer

A slide projector, attached to a Dobsonian telescope, projects images on the telescope's concave mirror, which in turn reflects them on two further mirrors installed on the ceiling and on the floor, until the light beam leaves the space through a window. The 80 slides show images which have been part on the legendary "Golden Record" produced for the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 missions. 

 

Ohne Titel (Inverse Observatories), 2007 (wall, left)

10 piezo prints with passepartout

Ohne Titel (Inverse Observatories), 2007 (wall, center)

B/W photography

Ohne Titel (Inverse Observatories), 2007 (wall, right)

B/W photography, 3 parts

Inverse Observatories is a series of photographs of astronomical observatories found by the artist on the internet and brought together to a kind of archive. Formally, use is made of solarised negatives. This technique reverses light and shade values and gives the prints a surrealistic look. The resultant reality shift conveys the impression of an extraterrestrial vision of our scientific "monuments".

 

Photo © Carsten Eisfeld

Message to the Extraterrestrials, 2007 (front)

Dobsonian Telescope with pedestal, slide projection with telescope mounting, slide carrousel with timer

A slide projector, attached to a Dobsonian telescope, projects images on the telescope's concave mirror, which in turn reflects them on two further mirrors installed on the ceiling and on the floor, until the light beam leaves the space through a window. The 80 slides show images which have been part on the legendary "Golden Record" produced for the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 missions. 

 

Tour Solaire, 2007 (wall)

Circle projection, video, sound

Duration approx. 10 min

The video starts with a slow zoom-out that moves from the city of Paris over the site of the Tour Solaire observatory of Meudon. Built in the 1960s to observe the sun, the observatory is today no longer in use. The video investigates the observatory as a cultural monument, which appears to be already part of the past.


Photo © Carsten Eisfeld

Tour Solaire, 2007 (detail)

Circle projection, video, sound

Duration approx. 10 min

The video starts with a slow zoom-out that moves from the city of Paris over the site of the Tour Solaire observatory of Meudon. Built in the 1960s to observe the sun, the observatory is today no longer in use. The video investigates the observatory as a cultural monument, which appears to be already part of the past.

 

Photo © Carsten Eisfeld

Tour Solaire, 2007

Circle projection, video, sound

Duration approx. 10 min

The video starts with a slow zoom-out that moves from the city of Paris over the site of the Tour Solaire observatory of Meudon. Built in the 1960s to observe the sun, the observatory is today no longer in use. The video investigates the observatory as a cultural monument, which appears to be already part of the past.


Photo © Carsten Eisfeld

Inverse Observatory Archive, 2007

4 lightboxes, anodised aluminium, Duraclear

The work consists of a collection of images of observatories, found by the artist on the internet and brought together to a kind of archive. Formally, use is made of solarised negatives. This technique reverses light and shade values and gives the prints a surrealistic look. The resultant reality shift conveys the impression of an extraterrestrial vision of our scientific "monuments".

 

Photo © Carsten Eisfeld

Inverse Observatory Archive, 2007 (Detail)

4 light boxes, anodized aluminium, Duraclear

The work consists of a collection of images of observatories, found by the artist on the internet and brought together to a kind of archive. Formally, use is made of solarised negatives. This technique reverses light and shade values and gives the prints a surrealistic look. The resultant reality shift conveys the impression of an extraterrestrial vision of our scientific "monuments".

 

Photo © Carsten Eisfeld

Observatoires

Christoph Keller
September 25 – October 20, 2007
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Christoph Keller’s third solo show at Esther Schipper centres on a telescope switched from receive to broadcast—its concave mirror reflects the light beam from a slide projector that is sent zigzagging via further mirrors through the darkened gallery space and finally, through an open window, outside. The pictures projected in this way have already been in space for thirty years. In coded form, they became part of the Voyager 1 & 2 space probe missions in 1977 that were supposed to explain planet Earth, humankind and human culture to a potential extraterrestrial finder: a time capsule that will not enter the next planetary system for at least another 40,000 years. The ideal viewer of these pictures projected outside using a telescope is thus not to be found in the gallery space, where they are visible only in the barely perceptible form of a fleeting light beam. With his installation, Christoph Keller gives this anthropocentric but no less epic attempt at communication via space travel a decisive turn that reveals the crux of astronomy. As well as being an instrument for observing remote areas of the cosmos, as a parallel product it always generates an image of ourselves.

 

Rendering the universe visible and discovering its universal laws, as attempted by astronomy, aims not least to create a point of view from which the earth, and finally mankind itself, can be observed from outside. The exhibition radicalises this claim by pointing to its blind spots. For the viewer, the structure of the archive of found images of observatories set up by Christoph Keller and displayed in the form of lightboxes and single black and white photographs, remains opaque. His archive reverses lines of sight and misuses the means of scientific investigation as "inverse observatories."

 

The video Tour Solaire also begins with such a reversal. From the viewing platform of a disused observatory, the camera glides over the panorama of Paris and finally turns to the inside of the tower. Accompanied by the soundtrack from Tarkovsky’s film Solaris, a circular walk through the abandoned observatory unfolds, which is turned into a psychological interior. Exposed to scrutiny, the observatory itself becomes a silent monument to a foreign culture: the instrument of a science that is haunted by its own fictionalisation.

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