In August 2017, Julie Hill took part in the first ever residency programme situated at Lumen Studios in St John on Bethnal Green. Mirror Darkness responds to Julie's experience of being in the space.
Mirror Darkness is a site-specific installation that parallels the strangely futuristic qualities of Lumen Crypt gallery with the architecture of space telescopes. Drawing on the darkness and religious context of the crypt, images of dark nebulae are manipulated to resemble strange, supernatural, cloud like forms – poised in configurations around black mirrors that have been cut to designs based on the James Webb Telescope.
Dark nebulae represent a limit to vision and perception: due to their density they block out light behind them and appear as black serpentine shapes and orbs in the night sky. However, through other wavelengths we know them to be the spawning grounds of stars and planets. This darkness holds an ambiguity, a duality of emptiness and fullness, pointing to the limit of both scientific and religious knowledge in the face of an inhuman cosmos that cannot be known.
A text written by a deep learning algorithm trained on telescope technical papers and The Cloud of Unknowing – a medieval Christian mystical text, describes strange permutations between telescope and interstellar space.
Julie Hill works across different media, from writing, print and photography to sculpture and installation. Sources of fact and fiction act as springboards for installation – or mise-en-scène –that merge objects, texts and interventions to explore the divide between the objective and the subjective, the real and the imagined. The narrative scenarios her work gives rise to investigate the construction of knowledge – in particular astronomy, scientific cosmology, earth sciences and the supernatural. Materials such as smoke and mirrors act as portals, or conduits, between the known and the unknown. Julie F Hill studied at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art and is currently a Fellow at the Royal Academy Schools. Exhibitions include Passen-gers, London, UK (2017); Pokey Hat: Glasgow International Festival, Glasgow, UK (2016); Dimensions Variable, Miami, USA (2012), Guest Projects, London, UK (2012), Tate Britain, London, UK (2007, www.juliehill.co.uk
Lumen Gallery showcases a variety of artists working with ideas of science, astronomy, light and space. The gallery is run by Lumen an art collective exploring the themes of astronomy and light. They curate events, exhibitions, seminars and residencies in the UK, Europe and beyond.