Pictures from high-powered telescopes, such as NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, have conditioned us to imagine the cosmos as vividly colored and brilliantly lit, a sublime landscape of stars. Such views balance the need for scientifically valid representations with a desire for aesthetically powerful ones. How might these scientific images come into conversation with artistic representations? This lecture will review the history of 20th- and 21st-century astronomical images alongside the work of Joseph Cornell, Vija Celmins, Spencer Finch (all in the permanent collection at either the Cantor Arts Center or Anderson Collection), and other artists, in an exploration of how astronomy and art help us understand our place in the cosmos.
Elizabeth A. Kessler is a lecturer in Stanford’s Program in American Studies, as well as the Department of Art and Art History. Her research and teaching focus on twentieth and twenty-first century American visual culture. Her diverse interests include: the role of aesthetics, visual culture, and media in modern and contemporary science, especially astronomy; the interchange between technology and ways of seeing and representing; the history of photography; and the representation of fashion in different media.
Pre-registration and Drop-in: $35 member | $40 non-member