Do Lonely Astronomical Observatories Dream Electric Dreams?

Do Lonely Astronomical Observatories Dream Electric Dreams?
Pigment print on Hahnemühle cotton rag, framed
98cm x 71cm
Edition of 6 + 2 AP

Veil Nebula is a supernova remnant visible with binoculars—a delightful rarity when it comes to cosmic wonders. Located 2,100 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Cygnus, the nebula formed between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago when a star twenty times the size of our sun expired—an explosion that would have been visible during daytime for weeks if not months on Earth. Whenever I read something like this, that our common ancestors would have witnessed such a momentous event, my mind daydreams and fantasies about the significance and ramifications for these early humans. What did they think when this bright object appeared in the sky? Was this a juncture in time launching an epic transition in the history of human evolution—a series of events that is still reverberating today? Did this fractional moment in the chronology of the Universe forever alter the odyssey of humankind? Or perhaps I am a fanciful stargazer, and nothing happened at all. From a technical point of view, the work was created by disentangling, altering (processing to emphasise the algorithmic nature of digital imagery), and repositioning several images of the Veil Nebula to create an object of the mind (an imagined object). I liked the idea of creating an image that is chaotic when viewed up close—thousands of individual and independent parts—yet detailed and ordered when viewed from a distance.

In respect to some of the electrifying episodes that occurred during this period: 20,000 years ago humans in China started crafting the oldest known pottery vessels; around the same time the goat was domesticated; the first human migration into North America occurred between 16,000 and 13,000 years ago; humans domesticated the pig between 15,000 and 14,700 years ago; archaeological records reveal the oldest evidence for prehistoric warfare occurring between 14,000 and 12,000 years ago; 13,000–11,000 years ago humans domesticated the sheep; 13,000-10,000 years ago the climate started to warm and glaciers receded; 11,600 years ago the Holocene geological epoch began—global warming accelerated the glacial retreat; 11,100 years ago the giant short-faced bears, giant ground sloths, and Equidae went extinct; 11,000 years ago prehistoric humans constructed the megaliths at Göbeklitepe in southern Turkey, which is the oldest surviving religious site on Earth; 10,500 years ago humans domesticated cattle; and, finally, the cultivation of barley and wheat began in Mesopotamia 10,000-9,000 years ago.

Detailed view: