Through the Looking Glass: Humanity’s Changing Vision of the Universe

Tuesday 15th – Sunday 20th October 2019

Curated by Louise Beer, Melanie King, Rebecca Huxley Becky Lyon and Natasha Sabatini.

Into the Horizonoftheinfinite.NET, 2018 presented as a projection installation. Added to the work was an audio accompaniment of radio stations from around the world, tuned in to at the local time of sunset.

Exhibition Press Release

Lumen​ present, ​Through the Looking Glass: Humanity’s Changing Vision of the Universe​ an exhibition of over 50 artists, illuminating how technology has influenced a collective view of the Universe.

Throughout history, humanity has striven to understand its extended environment, the cosmos. Harnessing new technologies, evidence and critical thinking, humans developed incredible early mythologies and seasonal subsistence cycles, philosophical models and current day astronomical concepts. The earliest human would have looked up and gazed at the stars, in the same way many of us do today. With these developments, our understanding allows us to reach further, to explore bigger questions about our existence and the fabric of reality. Technology allows us to gaze so deep into the distance and​ we find it immensely difficult to resolve the figures it produces.

Facets of these changing visions will be expressed through extensive works featuring ​astrophotography, site-specific light installations, intricate hand-drawings, mixed media sculptures and meditative video work. More than 40 established and emerging artists feature in Lumen’s third major exhibition at the venue, part of Ugly Duck’s ​In Transition​ season, which considers the broader question of how much technology is changing human behaviour.

Humanity has traversed through different answers to our biggest questions. The Ptolemaic view of the Universe was an Earth-centered, or geocentric model. In this model, the Sun and all of the planets orbited the Earth and the other stars formed a backdrop that also orbited Earth. In 1543, Copernicus published the idea of a sun-centered, or heliocentric view of the Universe that had been suggested by ancient Greek astronomers like Aristarchos. Developments by Johannes Kepler demonstrated that the orbits of Earth and the other planets were not perfectly circular but were actually elliptical, or egg-shaped. Since then, we have discovered black holes, neutron stars, dark matter and developed complex theories of the beginning and eventual end of the universe.

Alongside an ever changing scientific ​and social ​world-view, humanity has found comfort and resolution in faithful worship of different gods and deities that help to answer their questions about the meaning and purpose of life. Today we have technology that has developed from Galileo’s use of Hans Lipperhey’s ‘Dutch Perspective Glass’ that gave us humanity’s first view of the four largest moons of Jupiter (Io, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa) and physical features on the Moon in 1610 to current day technology that allows us to see into unimaginably distant parts of the universe.

About the Curators

Lumen is an art collective, focused on themes of astronomy and light. Through art, exhibitions and seminars we aim to raise a dialogue about how humanity understands existence. The members of Lumen are Louise Beer, Melanie King and Rebecca Huxley. Lumen have curated exhibitions and residencies nationally and internationally since their launch exhibition at the Crypt Gallery in Saint Pancras on the Winter Solstice in December 2014. Lumen collaborate with and have been commissioned by organisations including Vivid Projects, Chelsea College of Art, Phytology, Ugly Duck, Bankley Gallery, the Grizedale Exhibition Space, Young and Serious, the British Science Association, Greenman Festival and Bluedot Festival. Since May 2015, Lumen have curated exhibitions within their own gallery space, the Crypt at St John on Bethnal Green, including group shows, solo shows and artist in residence programmes.

About Ugly Duck

Ugly Duck revitalize underused spaces opening them up for creative uses, enabling artists, community groups, professionals and the public to come together. We host unique cultural experiences and curate events to promote and support emerging artists. Ugly Duck works to programme a diverse range of creative projects, exploring fields such as science, activism, information & technology, and social/cultural issues.