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ING web news release
18 Sep, 2012

LIGHT YEARS Exhibition

In the framework of its public outreach programme, ING has collaborated with visual artist Eugènia Balcells in the production of the exhibition LIGHT YEARS. Using footage of the telescopes and el Roque, and combining astronomical imaging from ING and other observatories, the installation introduces astronomy and physics knowledge to enlarge everyday experience of space, time and matter. The exhibition opened in Madrid on 17 September 2012, and will remain open until 18 November 2012. Below are excerpts from the exhibition's brochure.

LIGHT YEARS is a journey into the memory of the universe. A memory that begins in the stars and is gathered inside the elemental particles that make up matter. It is a hymn to the complexity of the light that creates life in its path. It is an opportunity to remember that everything in existence was once nothing but star dust.

LIGHT YEARS consists of two installations, UNIVERSE and FREQUENCIES, accompanied by the film GLIMPSE OF THE UNIVERSE and the mural HOMAGE TO THE ELEMENTS. These four pieces have been made by Eugènia Balcells in the past three years, during which time her artistic career has been recognised with the gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts 2009.

LIGHT YEARS is a production by the Subdirección General de Promoción de las Bellas Artes del Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte (Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport Department for the Promotion of Fine Arts) of a project by Eugènia Balcells, with the participation of the Circular Asociación para la Difusión de las Artes (Circular Association for the Promotion of the Arts) and in collaboration with the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and NASA. It will be open to the public from the 18th of September to the 18th of November 2012 at Tabacalera, espacio Promoción del Arte; calle de Embajadores, 51; 28012 Madrid (see brochure below for more information).

Announcing poster [ JPG ]

UNIVERSE is a multimedia installation focussing on the view of the world provided by astronomy today and on the experience of contemplating, from Earth, the cycle of light in its never-ending succession of days and nights. Following the sun's course from dawn until the moment when the night plunges into total darkness, the piece represents the universe as a detached body that could be looked at from the outside. The great telescopes of the Roque de los Muchachos Astrophysics Observatory, the technological eyes of the modern world, meet here with an ingenious mechanism of spinning screens which, in their constant motion, reveal some of the questions that have always piqued human curiosity and that both arts and sciences strain to understand. The soundtrack of the installation is composed of frequencies emitted by celestial bodies – the sun, the moon, the planets… - captured and transcribed by NASA.

GLIMPSE OF THE UNIVERSE is a film by Eugènia Balcells, in conversation with the astronomer Marc Balcells, director of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes. Against the backdrop of the Isaac Newton, William Herschel and Grantecan telescopes, the film celebrates the successive discoveries of four cosmic scales - Earth, Solar System, the Galaxy, and the Universe. Noting the role of atomic frequencies in the understanding of cosmic objects, the film highlights that common physical laws unify us and the cosmos to a common origin and destiny.

FREQUENCIES is an installation exploring the composition of the universe from within matter itself. As opposed to the images of the cosmos offered by astronomy, this installation is based on the elements of the Periodic Table. It allows us to imagine how the trace of light that identifies each element interlaces with the rest, in a metaphor for creation. FREQUENCIES emphasises the fact that everything in existence comes from a particular composition of these original elements that are, in truth, our vital alphabet.

HOMAGE TO THE ELEMENTS is a version of the Periodic Table that includes the chemical names of the elements and the trace of light that identifies them like a fingerprint. It accompanies FREQUENCIES like a blind man’s guide: it shows us the unique nature of each element so that we can contemplate how they are interwoven in the installation and let our imagination wander amid the complexity of movements that engender life.

More information:

Brochure: Spanish | English.

Light Years Exhibition's web site

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Contact:  (Public Relations Officer)
Last modified: 26 September 2012