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Theoretical Explorations Module XIV

December '21

Borrowed Light: Speculations on Astronomy

Borrowed Light: Speculations on Astronomy

The night sky is ambiguous: a blank surface on which individual desires, thoughts, and feelings are mapped and projected. Cosmology and fiction both share a quest for pattern and meaning and in each field it is the viewer/reader who becomes the active agent - interpreting and seeking meaning. A closer study of the practice of observation helps to bridge the gap between the ‘real’ and the ‘artificial’. No observation is ever truly unmediated. What could amateur astronomers - as a group of people enthralled by the night sky -  tell us about the nature and complexities of how humans create meaning? What can they tell us about observation?  As practice, mode, method?

In our seminar, we will look at the people and forms - both embodied and technological - this mediation takes. Over eight classes we will delve into the various ways - historical, speculative, performative, and practical -  in which categories such as observation, object, site, and the subject/amateur have been understood. These sessions might reveal how we as individuals observe time and ourselves within the solar system.

About the Professor

Rohini Devasher