White Museum Installation
Rosa Barba - Artist
Jan Werner - Composer
Victoria Brooks - EMPAC Curator, Time-Based Visual Arts
Ian Hamelin - Project Coordinator
Geoff Abbas - Director of Stage Technologies
Daniel A Swalec - Lighting Director
March 7-28, 2014 | Hirsch Observatory | Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy Campus
While transforming EMPAC's 8th Street façade into an outdoor cinema that uses the solar system as source material for a speculative film, a site-specific artwork for the Hirsch Observatory connected the two buildings across campus.A 70mm film installation at the Hirsch Observatory, White Museum, was projected out of the dome and into the sky. Located on the roof of the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center, the observatory was built in 1942 to house a 12” equatorial reflector telescope that was designed and constructed at Rensselaer. Juxtaposed against the current 16” Boller & Chivens dome telescope from the 1960s, the film projector traces the reciprocal relationship of astronomy and cinema.This new commission was produced in collaboration with undergraduate students Nicholas Palmieri, Jake Weiss, Thomas Hartmann, and Heidi Newberg, professor of physics, applied physics, and astronomy at Rensselaer.
text and logo from EMPAC website | photo courtesy of EMPAC
Technical Project Notes:
The initial phases of this residency involved site-surveys and prep work for the Hirsch observatory in which we would be installing it. Initial conceptual testing involved a 2.5k ARRI HMI Fresnel fixture atop a junior stand pointed out of the observation hatch of the observatory on a cold January evening. This gave an idea of what the final installation would be, a beam of light shining out of the top of the observatory, although the fixture wasn’t ideal for the test, it proved the concept, and we were off towards planning for the final installation.
The floor plan and section drawing of this unique space was the first element in the process of fitting a 70mm film projector into the space. We contracted with a projector supplier that the artist had worked with in the past to create a projector that allowed for the desired intensity, while fitting in the available footprint, working within the limitations of the power we had installed in the facility, and dealing with the obtuse angle needed to shoot this beam of projected light up and out of the roof hatch. Thankfully, the vendor was able to create a custom solution for this installation that allowed us to achieve the artists vision within the limitations of the facility.