Venus Mirrors (05.06.2012, Hawaii and Tahiti (Inverted)), 2012

Installation view: Simon Starling in collaboration with SUPERFLEX – Reprototypes, Triangulations and Road Tests, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, 2012. Photo: Jens Ziehe

Simon Starling
Venus Mirrors (05/06/2012, Hawaii & Tahiti (Inverted)), 2012
Two drilled telescope mirrors, stands
Mirrors: 60 cm diameter each, stands: h 145.5 cm each

Based on intensive research and experimentation, Simon Starling attempts to link the history of astronomy and cinema with modernity and globalization. Conceived as part of an ongoing work concerned with the beginnings of moving image technology and its relationship to astronomy, Venus Mirrors (05/06/2012, Hawaii & Tahiti (Inverted)) presents the transit of Venus across the sun as observed in June 2012 from two historically significant observational sites in the Pacific Ocean. The small differences in the position of the transit—as seen when the viewer overlays the reflection of one mirror onto the other—were the basis for huge leaps forward in the understanding of the dimensions of our solar system. For six hours on June 5 or June 6, 2012 (depending on your location on earth) it was possible to observe a small black disc passing across the face of the sun. The transit of Venus—an extremely rare astronomical event, which occurs in pairs eight years apart at intervals of over 100 years, was originally predicted by Johannes Kepler and observed and recorded for the first time by the English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks in 1639—was once the key to unlocking the architecture of the solar system. In the first internationally coordinated scientific endeavors, substantial efforts were made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to precisely observe and record the duration and position of the transit from geographically remote locations across the globe. These observations, which included the use of nascent cinematographic techniques, allowed for the first relatively accurate calculations to be made of the so-called astronomical unit—the mean Earth-Sun distance.
Birgit Schneider, "The Spectacle of Science: A Visual History of Venus Transit Observation" in Simon Starling, SUPERFLEX, Daniela Zyman et al., Reprototypes, Triangulations and Road Tests, Sternberg Press, 2012
Born in Epsom, England, in 1967. Lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.