28 minutes 20 seconds

Observatory comet stereo text smThat is how long it takes for a message to reach us from the Rosetta spacecraft that is currently circling around the P67 comet. That message travels at the speed of light, so it can go no faster. But what happens in between, in the delay? We have no way of bridging this gap, no way of removing it, no way of ‘seeing inside’ it. We have reached a limit. This gap puts me in mind of stereoscopic images, such as this one of P67, which highlights how each eye sees its own image of the world and never that of the other eye: there is an unbridgeable gap between the two. I have a sneaking suspicion that something can happen in this space, something that we will never be aware of. Just so with the communications coming back from Rosetta: something could be happening in those 28 minutes and 20 seconds to which we are completely blind. The picture comes from “ESA/Rosetta/NavCam/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA/Daniel Macháček” . 

Lookin Lookout

Windy Millar spins.pctLookinlookout is the web address for the Observatory residency that I am part of next year. In fact, I am going to be the first resident, January to March, so hope it is well insulated! One key aspect of the structure is that the two pods can be rotated, and SPUD have just released this video of the Observatory under construction showing how it turns. The Observatory is there for both the artist to observe the landscape but also for visitors to be able to observe the artist working, looking in on a ‘day in the life of’. All this brought back memories of Camberwick Green and the opening sequence where the character featured in that episode rises up out of a rotating music box. (How the lid of the box slid aside in triangular segments always fascinated me.) For those of you who don’t know the series, this is Windy Miller the, well yes, miller, responsible for an old windmill and fond of his homemade cider!. Dear old Windy! Looking in, looking out. Can anyone remember, was there an artist in Camberwick Green (watercolours most like!) As for the series itself, that was by the puppeteer Gordon Murray.

I love Philae and Philae loves me

Observatory philae goingThe outpouring of emotion towards the comet probe Philae over the past few days has taken me quite by surprise. The poor little thing, going to sleep in the freezing darkness of space, precariously clinging to comet 67P, waiting, hopefully, for a few rays of sunlight to give it the energy to call home again. What is this? What is this emotional link that we are able to make across the depths of space? And why? It brings to mind a recent article by George Monbiot about our desire to leave Earth and live in space. Junk this planet and move on. I think there will be no better place to work on all this than in The Observatory, which will land next January with one foot firmly in the natural world of the South Downs National Park and the other in the Winchester Science Centre. Great, I have a working title for that residency: ‘I love Philae and Philae loves me’.

Paper round dreams

Observatory philae imageI never did a paper round as a kid, but now I am doing one every Monday morning as my eldest son can’t do his on that day because of basketball. What has surprised me is that I love it! It’s great to get out and cycle around a bit before going to the studio. Great for thinking too. There I was this morning in the rain, dropping off a Citizen at number 43, when I found myself in residence in The Observatory (which isn’t supposed to start until January!) The next half hour was a joy, ideas flooding in for this project, connections being made. I now have a plan. I can fully recommend a paper round as a great work tool! So, as a first step here is where the Observatory is going to be sited in January. Sorry number 64, forgot you this morning in all my daydreaming. I will pop back later with your copy.