RMIT and Deakin Universities. Australia
Citing The Saucers: Astronomy, UFOs and a persistence of vision
The Universe in images: Iconography of the Plurality of Worlds
This presentation consists of two parallel and interweaving investigations regarding the UFO phenomenon and its origins with respect to observational astronomy. As a young child I was fascinated with astronomy and would spend many hours with my toy telescope viewing blurred images of the night sky. I also held a deep belief in UFOs and was committed to seeing and recording a flying saucer for myself. This led me to fabricate my own UFO photographs and from these I developed a critical relationship with photography as a means of documentation and as a medium of illusionary projection.
The second thread that weaves through this presentation investigates the advent of the UFO phenomenon as a consequence of 19th and early 20th century developments in observational astronomy, and the speculative theories regarding life on Mars that emerged during this period. I will be considering the work of Giovanni Schiaparelli, Percival Lowell and the writings of Carl Jung. I will be arguing that the primary force that led towards a belief in flying sauces emerged from the speculations and misinterpretations of certain astronomical observations together with a desire to project upon that which was observed rather than to see that which was there.
Daniel Armstrong is an Australian-based photo-media, installation artist and tertiary lecturer. His current research explores relationships between photography and astronomy with a specific interest in how scientific imaging both falters and succeeds at the edge of representation. He is also interested in the historical relationships between photography and astronomy, the lens and the telescope and the cultural and philosophical implications of these relationships. Other research interests include the illuminated image, suburbia and contemporary culture, the architectural, sound and video and sensor-triggered installation art. He exhibits and present conference papers on a regular basis. In June and July 2009 he undertook an Australia Council residency at the Lowell Astronomical Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona. During this period he also undertook research at Mt Palomar, VLA at New Mexico and the University of Arizona Mirror Lab in Tuscan, and at a number of other observatories, museums and planetaria. He lives part time in the rural Victoria where he spends his nights imaging the dark skies with homemade and primitive cameras and telescopes. He is currently undertaking a fine art PhD at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, University in Melbourne.