The documentary film explores the most advanced contemporary research centers for the study of the universe. In these centers, knowledge is developed at scales and distances beyond human perception. But what does it actually mean to study the universe? Through a series of intimate dialogue with scientists and a detail visual analysis of experiments and events taking place inside the lab, the director draw an original picture of scientific research, considering how individual background, cultural frameworks and technological constraints play a key role in the elaboration of scientific theories about the universe and its visual representations.

In her thorough study of the contemporary visual imaginary of outer space, Elizabeth Kessler suggests that very much as romantic landscapes, present-day photographs of the universe are strongly linked to the concept of the sublime. A central idea in Romanticism’s art and literature, the sublime was described by philosopher Immanuel Kant and poet Edmund Burke as “an extreme aesthetic experience, one that threatens to overwhelm even as it affirms humanity’s potential”. Through artistic pratice the domain of astrophysics is explored as an evolving system, which evades the fixity of truth-encompassing statements.

As the research tests how and to what effect artistic practice can generate new and original insight on the modalities through which astrophysics represents and narrates itself, the related artworks act as a series of experiments looking at subjects (outer space visual representations, research labs), agents (scientists, technological apparatus) and contexts (theoretical frameworks of reference) and demonstrate the tension between the visible and the invisible shaping the present development of cognitive-visual knowledge about outer space.

Films, photographs and site-specific installations act as charged surfaces in which multiple gazes - those of the artist, the scientists and the viewers - come together due to the unifying action of universal light travelling through space. Visual representations of the universe emerge as complex narratives constructed through the combined agency of technological apparatus and human intervention.

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