Les révolutions sidérales
October 1–November 5, 2016
by James D. Campbell
In the photoworks in this exhibition, Fiona Annis dilated with poetic acuity on the clockwork of the heavens. She mined resources as varied and recondite as the first spectroscopic data on the trajectory of Halley’s Comet, recorded in 1910, and Binary Stars: A Pictorial Atlas, 1992. Annis is as much an aficionado of Marcel Proust as she is of Sir John Herschel,1 and she is a tireless researcher (and practitioner) not only of photographic techniques from an earlier era – such as wet-collodion – but contemporary philosophical and scientific thought.
The phenomenon that animated Annis’s exceptional work in this exhibition is a binary star system, consisting of two stars orbiting around the same point. In fact, it is a powerful metaphor for her project as a whole, and the latest images from the Hubble telescope help to explain our own fascination with work that uses antiquated photographic means to shed light on the latest discoveries in astronomy. “Binary star” is often used synonymously with “double star,” but the latter also notably means optical double star. These optical doubles, luminous Doppelgängers, are the astral ghosts that haunt her work like unseen companions, exerting a force of gravity both on her undertaking and upon our attention…
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