Review: Visual Abundance on Earth and Beyond
Beyond Visibility

Robert McFarlane Photographer and Writer

BEYOND VISIBILITY: light and dust

Coincidentally during the same month the refurbished Hubble Telescope is sending new images from outer space that quite literally astonish us, there is a provocative exhibition in Sydney that echoes these discoveries. Three artists, astronomer David Malin, indigenous artist Gulumbu Yunupingu and Felicity Spear each attempt to address the infinite within the clean spaces of the UTS Gallery. As Malin says, “to reveal part of the natural world ... beyond unaided vision ...” The astronomer argues that studying the cosmos is relevant to our existence because “... we ourselves are made from stardust. If ... stars had not existed, neither would we.”

What is engrossing in this exhibition, curated by Spear and Malin, is the commonality shared by all three artists. Each, with differing ways and artistic means, deal with limitless vistas - beyond simple understanding. Yunupingu’s painted hollow logs are pearlescent with Pointillist colour that mirrors the northern Nhulunbuy night sky. Spear’s reconstructed shards of light and colour also suggest a skyscape with no clear point of visual anchoring. “Deep Field” by Spear, shows the physical world to be as soundly fractured as portraiture was by Cubism. Malin’s astronomical photographs, some of the last to be made using orthodox non-digital photography, are both exhilarating and humbling. One particular image reminded me of the mud opals found in the landscape of Arkeringa, in northern South Australia, where, coincidentally, ELDO launched their somewhat primitive rockets into space in 1969. Once, on the way to Uluru with artist Kate Burness, I saw one of these rockets lose its bearings and giddily wander across the high South Australian sky. Malin’s “Light Echo from a Super Nova, 1987" deals with much greater moments, encompassing events we may only pretend to digest, rather like listening to the way physicists airily chat about the Big Bang (without a word about what may have existed before). I gave up deciphering the rich ochres of this image and simply revelled in the Malin picture’s resemblance to the opals I once saw, so long ago, near Woomera. Until October 9.

Reproduced with the permission of the author. Full review on the Ozphotoreview website