Katie Paterson has sent work to the moon and back in her current exhibition Ideas at Ingleby Gallery. Paterson’s work revolves around cosmology and nature, bridging gaps between ancient geologic history and the future. Fossil Necklace is a work consisting of 170 small round beads, all made of different materials that trace the origins of life on Earth to the most recent evolutionary period. In Second Moon, Paterson sent a fragment of the Moon around the Earth via freight courier for an entire year, simulating the orbit of Earth’s actual moon.
By Allison Palenske
Born in Glasgow and educated at the Edinburgh College of Art and Slade School of Art, Paterson has emerged as one of the most ambitious names in contemporary art. Her work can be seen across multiple galleries at this year’s Edinburgh Art Festival, with one of her more recent works launched into space.
Admitting the moon is her favorite “planet”, lunar themes are abundant in the artist’s works. Earth-Moon-Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) was exhibited at the 2014 Edinburgh Art Festival. Paterson sent Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata via the ‘Moon Bouncing’ technology, and a piano played the notes that were received back on Earth. For this piece, Morse code was reflected on the surface of the moon back to Earth. The code that was received back on Earth was imperfect, due to the moon’s cratered terrain, which affected the playback of the Sonata to the audience
The artist credits collaborations as being integral to the success of her galactic work. Paterson has worked amongst experts in their respective fields at the University College London Department of Physics and Astronomy, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, University of London Observatory, and the Edinburgh Royal Observatory. The success of her work may also be due to the fascination that the artist has for her subject matter, but mostly the fascination incited within the viewer—concepts that seem unachievable become a reality in Paterson’s work, and are visualized to a level of accuracy that is hard to believe.
In the same way that the universe, to our current understanding, seems infinite, Paterson’s work extends beyond tangible boundaries. The combination of Paterson’s willingness to dream of the unknown and her attention to detailed research pushes beyond the established framework of contemporary art, appealing to a wide audience of artists, intellectuals, scientists and the general public, all searching for answers to questions that have yet to be asked.
Katie Paterson: Ideas runs through September 27, 2014 at Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh.
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