A key debate in photography is the question of the authenticity of the photographic image. My work takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the core notions of truth intrinsic in our perceptions of photography of space. Our idea of space is informed by images from science’s forays into the Universe via space missions and telescopes. Many of the space photos we see are received on earth as raw computer data, binary code distilled into monochrome images and coloured-in to emphasise visual information. My aim is to make alternative versions of authentic space images, seeking some kind of personal contact with the stars in their creation; a desire born out of that common adult realisation that I am not going to be an astronaut.
Working in my darkroom I arrange meteorite fragments onto light sensitive paper and make several exposures, one for each colour. The space-dust blocks light during the exposures to create the stars in my galaxies. The creation process is a truly revelatory experience; my visual sense entirely detached by the darkness, my olfactory sense is amplified; the powerful metallic odour of the chondrites is reminiscent of blood. Meteors are commonly associated with both the wonder of planetary formation and the terror of potentially cataclysmic extinction. Handling this interstellar dust I am intensely aware that the alien matter in my hands forms the very building blocks of everything we know.
When this work is presented without accompanying text, I am often asked, “What kind of telescope did you use to take these photos?” In considering the authenticity of my outcomes, the realism of the subject appears validated by the inherent perception of truth conferred by the photographic medium. When all is said and done my pictures of the stars do posses some truth as the direct indexical trace of the stardust used in their creation.