It is fifty years since the release of Stanley Kubrick’s epic science fiction adventure 2001 A Space Odyssey. Based on a story by Arthur C. Clarke, it came to define the space race generation’s imaginative approach to the possibilities of a shared universe.
2018 is also the fiftieth anniversary of a small photograph taken by Apollo 8 crewman William Anders, sometimes regarded as the most influential photograph of all time. It appeared ubiquitously on the front page of newspapers around the world in December 1968, depicting Earthrise, a small blue planet – ‘our home planet’, as Anders described it, ‘rising up above the stark and battered lunar horizon… the only colour against the deep blackness of space, beautiful and clearly delicate’.
Celebrating these half-century anniversaries (and in doing so stealing a march on the inevitable moon-landing celebrations of next year) Ingleby Gallery has brought together a stellar line up of historical and contemporary artists and thinkers exploring the rich territory of mankind’s relationship with the cosmos.
The exhibition includes a series of vintage NASA photographs, including Ander’s Earthrise, alongside selected historical works, such as pages from the 1639 edition of Johann Bayer’s Uranometria, and the 1902 film A Trip to the Moon directed by Georges Méliès. These will be shown with works by international contemporary artists considering the relationship between the Earth and other planets. Artists featured will include David Austen, Ben Cauchi, Vija Celmins, Susan Derges, Richard Forster, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Marine Hugonnier, Alicja Kwade, Peter Liversidge, Jonny Lyons, Garry Fabian Miller, Cornelia Parker, Katie Paterson and Frank Walter.
Jacob’s Ladder is presented in partnership with the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections with the exhibition Astronomy Victorious ; a parallel display of rare books and objects spanning five centuries that begins with Galileo and Copernicus and moves into the present day with works by contemporary artists including Katie Paterson’s Timepieces (2014) – a series of nine clocks that tell the time on the planets in our solar system – and Exposure (7 Hours of Light) July 2 by cameraless photographer Garry Fabian Miller. The two exhibitions consider the changing nature of humankind’s understanding of the universe.
University of Edinburgh Main Library exhibition gallery
George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LJ