The Moon

14 June – 1 September 2019
Geelong Gallery

Curator: Lisa Sullivan


Details of Work

  • Title: Somnium
  • Date: 2016
  • Dimensions: Sheet size 30.9 x 110 cm - Frame size 45 x 130 cm
  • Medium – Pigment inkjet print

(All photographs - F. Spear, hand held, Canon Power Shot SX50HS). Original photographs of total Moon eclipses, (from Queensland – April 2014, from Victoria – April 2015). Other image fragments: (Northern Territory – Uluru, European Arctic – Svalbard glacier, Western Australia - Montgomery Reef and cave in the Kimberley)

Notes on Somnium

Throughout history the study of optics and the behaviour of light have opened up ever shifting boundaries to the physical universe. Working with models which emphasize the value and complexity of the physical universe Spear’s aim in the Somnium series is to create a sense of, or feeling for, space, time, geometry and matter, and humans’ various interactions with and responses to the physical world.

Spear uses various forms of photography as a tool to experiment and play with the medium of light and its relationship with other media and forms of expression. She often takes photographs of the moon using a simple hand held camera. Using her own photographs, the digital print Somnium, (or Dream), references what has been described as Kepler’s ‘science fiction’ book of the same name.

In the 17th century the German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, a key figure in the scientific revolution, established his revolutionary theory of the elliptical orbits of planetary motion as well as discoveries in optics. His ideas are still prescient today.

Kepler straddled two worlds of thinking: the rational and the mystical, from which his book Somnium, (‘The Dream’) emerged. It was a guide for an adventurous lunar expedition, embarked upon during the moon’s eclipse in order to avoid the fierce impact of the sun’s rays.

Passing through time and space Kepler describes the imagined places and conditions which might be encountered on this journey. In fact within Kepler’s tale was secreted the scientific research which supported the Copernican view of a heliocentric universe, a still controversial notion at the time. Somnium brings the physical universe to life through the lens of history and science where the perpetual transition, impermanence and mystery of the sky is revealed by movement and change in the cosmos.


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