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Astronomy meets art in Venice: 10 artists inspired by Hubble Space Telescope images

by Lorenzo Zanini

What could two of the most fascinating sciences, astronomy and art, have in common? At first sight they seem different: on one hand there are logic and mathematics, on the other hand creativity and irrationality. Two worlds which seem distant, of course, while at the same time the duty of artists is to reflect their era, and this is the era of the space exploration. So it’s time to review this way of thinking.

Through April 17 Venice will host “Our Place in Space,” a new exhibition organized by NASA and ESA (the European Space Agency). The show recounts the mysteries of the Universe. How? It’s a journey in the Cosmos through the images of Hubble telescope accompanied from works created “ad hoc” by ten contemporary Italian artists.

Since the start of civilization people have tried to understand the Universe and their place in it — both as a species and as individuals. This quest has led to several shifts in our perception of our place in space, shifts often generated by new astronomical discoveries.

Astronomers have placed the Earth at the centre of the Universe, and then proven that it is not. They have theorized that the Milky Way is all there is, and then discovered that we live in just one galaxy among billions. And they have demonstrated the ever changing nature of our environment, a Universe as inconstant as our attempts to define it.

As our ability to observe the Universe improves and we gain another perception on our environment, both near and far, we edge closer to our very human desire to understand our place in space.

In 2015 the international scientific community celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the launch of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, one of the most ambitious space astronomy missions ever flown.

The data, science and images from Hubble have helped scientists to see further and have shifted their perspective. They have inspired astronomers, artists and public alike to ask, and endeavour to answer, the deep existential questions that humans all share: Where do we come from? Where are we going? Are we alone?

The exposition reminds us not only has Hubble transformed our knowledge of the Universe but for more than two decades it has greatly impacted culture, society and art.

Hubble has broadened the reach of astronomical research, a science that for years was reserved for a privileged few, and made it a resource available to all. It has brought the Universe into homes and it continues to inspire generations of artists.

(”Our Place in Space”, Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, Venice, through April 17)


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