In 2021 The Artist Expedition Society curated an outdoor exhibition, program of speakers and series of workshops at Central Australia’s inaugural Dark Skies Festival in collaboration with Earth Sanctuary in Alice Springs on Southern Arrernte Country.
As well as curating the event, exhibition, workshops, and performers, The Artist Expedition Society did graphic design and branding for this event.
The Artist Expedition Society created the original event.
During the festival, there was a special night called Supernova Cosmic Journey. This included five collaborations between local Central Australian musicians and the international artists who supplied the artwork. Each performance was introduced by The Artist Expedition Society founder Anna Dakin and astronomer Andrew Fitzgerald, who explored some of the science behind the ideas in the artworks.
Performing with Kate La Gracia & Trewlea Peters
Performing with Pale Blue Dot Collective
V. N. Lucarelli
Performing with Benna Gaean Maris
Performing with Robert Good
Performing with Thea Lazar
Gazing on Eromanga
Eromanga, an ancient ocean teaming with sea life during the cretaceous period through the now central desert. Our red centre reveals evidence of this today, from the tiny patterns in the rocks, to the gigantic wave like structures of the mountain ranges.
The infinite light of ancient stars being the only witness of such a transformation. “Gazing on Eromanga” reimagines the mighty milky way reflected on a dying inland sea. Combining animated microcosmic ancient sea life that has survived after the dinosaurs of the deep have vanished intertwined with magnificent footage of the infinite night sky.
New Zealand & United Kingdom
The film visualises a segment of an interstellar object’s journey through the vastness of space. The ambiguity of the rocks purpose is key.
Does the object carry life, with the capacity to take it from one place to another? Does the rock continue on an endless journey, never making contact with any other surface, until the end of the universe? Will any life form ever witness the rocks journey?
Are You Gonna Stay The Night?
A long, long time ago when many of the planets that we know today were still forming, in an unstable galaxy, the Moon’s story was also beginning. Gaia, the early Earth, was one of many young planetary bodies circling the Sun and gaining mass over time. Venus came into gravitational contact with another planet named Theia, after the Titaness from Greek Mythology.
Theia eventually collided with Gaia, dispersing material from the young planet’s crust into space. Gravity bound the debris around what was left of Theia’s core resulting in a new planet that today we call the Moon. We don’t know a lot about this mysterious planet, but the Moon carries it in her heart.
This video is inspired by deep-space imagery, and Panspermia, a theory about compounds travelling from Earth through deep space with the potential for propagating life after landing on planets with suitable conditions. I used to spend a lot of time meditating and staring at the stars at night.
I’ve always been fascinated by pictures of galaxies, nebulae and other celestial entities in the darkness. How will humans will cross the boundary of Earth into the wider universe? As a life messenger or just as plastic trash? The video was made by rotoscoping rubbish that I collected on seashores, which I layered onto a cosmic hand-painted background.
How to Know The Starry Heavens
How To Know The Starry Heavens (digital version) brings the text from my original project into the digital age. Individual letters occasionally twinkle back at the viewer, providing a moment of zen and calm reflection.
Overlaying the animation is audio from the NASA Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, in which one of the ground crew is tasked with filling 30 minutes of air time, and chooses to narrate his life history.
Dark Skies Festival was proudly supported by the Northern Territory Government and the Alice Springs Town Council.
Most photos by William Thomson