Star Maps
Lo Spazio, Venice Biennale
1986




THE STAR MAPS OF CHARLES ROSS

All of Ross's art is a disguise of, a frame for, an effort to soften the impact of this dramatic experience of the stars - this experience of becoming lost in the stars, consumed by and converted into light. It is this terrible experience that has been called "mythical." Ross's maps do not guarantee this experience but we can talk a little more about them as art. They are at once open and closed construction. They are constituted by 428 photographic negatives from the Falkau astronomical atlas (begun in the 1950s) by Hans Vehrenberg. The atlas shows stars to the thirteenth magnitude, considerably beyond our boundary of vision at the sixth magnitude (the dimmest stars visible to the naked eve). The negatives from the atlas have been arranged to cover the entire celestial sphere from pole to pole; the viewpoint is that of an observer at the center of the earth. The maps are cuts of the sphere, necessary in transferring it to a flat surface. One cut breaks up the sphere into intervals that correspond to ten degrees of earth latitude on star space (Ross calls this the earth-space cut); another cut is determined by the boundaries of the same constellations, as established by an international meeting of astronomers in the 1920s (mid-space cut); and a third cut breaks the sphere into long point like triangles, each of which represent the stars that would pass a fixed point in the period of an hour (earth-time cut). In each case the earth becomes in a sense the measure of the universe.

Donald B. Kuspit, "Charles Ross:Light Measure," Art in America (March - April 1978). Also published in: Tiberghien, Giles, Land Art (Paris: Editions Carre, 1993; Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1995) 176.

Star Maps
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