a very liquid heaven

Russell Crotty

The Dudley Observatory in Schenectady, NY had a rockin’ show in 2004. I didn’t see it, but the description is utterly captivating:

In his Principles of Philosophy of 1644, Rene Descartes described the earth as surrounded on all sides by a very liquid heaven. Although later discoveries discredited this idea, in a sense Descartes was on target. Modern astronomy reveals stars not as hard, fixed objects, but as pulsing plasmas, and interstellar space not as pure void, but as diffuse clouds of atoms and molecules.

A Very Liquid Heaven explores the essence of permanence versus mutability by posing questions regarding the nature of time, the constancy of experience, and the perception of change. These questions will be examined through an investigation of the changing human perception of stars based on physical observation, technical postulation, and artistic imagination. Traditionally, stars have been characterized as immutable points of light, but in the last one hundred years scientists have redefined these seemingly timeless objects as very active bodies—stars dramatically pulse, even catastrophically explode. Does this change in the ways stars are perceived help to make the stars more comprehensible, more real?

This exhibit featured historical artifacts, star charts, maps, globes, and photographs of astronomical bodies (including star atlases and the Farquhar transparent globe of Dudley Observatory), as well as recent art by Kiki Smith, Russell Crotty, John Torreano, Bill Viola, and Sebastian Romo, among others. Additionally, three performances of Music for a Summer Evening: Makrokosmos III (a work for two pianos and a wide array of percussion instruments, composed by George Crumb) opened the exhibition. The performances, featuring Skidmore faculty musicians and a dance choreographed and performed by Debra Fernandez, took place on October 14, 15, and 17.

Gee willikers. If I could time travel.

In the meantime, we can visit this?

Russell Crotty 2003


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