Pam is a member of the Astronomical Society of Victoria and the Mount Burnett Observatory where star gazing brings Pam closer to her subject via her telescope, a Saxon eight inch Dobsonian. This, together with her excursions to NASA, Houston, and ongoing space-related research, has informed her series of visualized space phenomena, light spectacles and cosmic possibilities.
Mia Cardenas: Being passionate about space at an early age, which constellation was your favorite when you were younger and why? Has this answer changed?
Pamela Bain: The Southern Cross was always a favourite for its simplicity, visibility, and as a signifier of my Southern hemispheric identity. I’m currently partial to the star cluster of Pleiades otherwise known as the seven sisters which is in the constellation of Taurus.
MC: Your website showed pictures about NASA and your work with them as an
artist. Tell us more about what you do and your journey towards working with
art and the cosmological realm.
PB: Forming relationships is important to any artist and my association with NASA’s Deep Space Communication Complex near Canberra, (where their antennae support interplanetary spacecraft missions amongst other things), gave rise to a screening of my curated project at their complex THE APOLLO 11 featuring video homages to the Moon landing event from eleven artists. This took place during their own Moon landing anniversary celebration in 2019.
The excitement of visiting NASA Houston and the Control Room never fades and I’ve been there four times - or is it five? Last October I toured the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida and saw the actual launch pad, now commissioned by SpaceX.
In 2016 my creative outlook underwent a seismic shift when I attended a live to the sky ‘observation run’ hosted by Swinburne University of Technology and their Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing (CAS). The project, DEEPER WIDER FASTER searching for the fastest explosions in the universe, marshalled 20, (now 50), research telescopes world wide in search of supernovae and fast radio bursts. The rarefied world of deep space phenomena inspired a new body of work that creatively examined the nature of light.
MC: What scientific and artistic processes do you undertake during the creation of your artwork?
PB: My mixed media creations, at times, comments on investigative methods. My large-scale grid of 90 painted oblongs, Candidate Light Collective, was a direct reinterpretation of the live beaming of pixelated star images, ‘candidates’, which I had observed at CAS. Overlaying the surface with an arc of yellow dots also spoke to a separate computational system that measures a star’s luminosity referred to as a ‘light curve’.
MC: What has been the biggest obstacle you have encountered working with your medium?
PB: Preferring to work large scale, limited working space forces me to amalgamate smaller works into larger grids. My plan for 2020 was to experiment with nanoparticles photon and matter interaction - and apply the generated images in ways that reference quantum structures of the Universe. Set to go with a supervising scientist COVID then happened along and thwarted access to the laboratory. Never mind, who hasn’t had challenges this year?
MC: Where do you see your work in the future? Any projects you're excited about?
PB: I’m stimulated by my current project investigating spectroscopy as it is the principal system of analysis in the sciences that reveals properties of light and matter. Thus, it’s also relevant to cosmic phenomena. I’m excited by the prospect of experimenting with assemblage art where a collage of materials potentially offers exciting results that relate to particle physics.
MC: How has your experience been as an artist working with science and what do you hope to achieve as a sci-artist?
PB: Creatively working with themes of the mysterious and the unattainable offer fascinating and philosophically involving experiences, thus, the subject of astronomy is a perfect match - planets, nebulae, and stars are tantalisingly out of reach and we only see filtered versions of these objects and phenomena. My mission is to merge art with the cosmic realm where deep space can meaningfully mediate our inner world: making visible our thoughts and feelings via a cosmic aesthetic.
To learn more about Pamela Bain, check out her website