DIAL

Imagine yourself lying in your backyard on a spring evening, watching the movement of the heavenly bodies. This installation mimics that experience to the degree that you may wish to lie down to experience the piece of art, to feel the earth move, and to watch the night sky.

To explore our perception of moving heavenly bodies and their connection to time passing, Torchia mounted the face of an electric analog clock on a turntable that rotates counter-clockwise at one revolution per minute. The face of the clock is projected on the ceiling; its red second hand appears motionless.

The clockwork drive inspired Torchia to create this installation. It is clockwork that moves a telescope to compensate for the earth's rotation on its axis, ensuring the smooth tracking of a heavenly body in the telescopic field. Thus, astronomers can use long-exposures to photograph objects that can only be recorded over time. Prior to the marriage of the telescope and camera, records of celestial objects seen through telescope eyepieces had to be drawn if they were to be shared.

Torchia tells us that he is "interested in ways of enhancing awareness of certain monumental realities that are routinely overlooked. Knowledge of the earth turning on its axis is habitually contradicted by the appearance of the "rising" and "setting" sun, an illusion further supported by language."


Activities: Appearance vs. Reality

  1. Ask your students to stand outside the front door of their home just after dark and draw the position of a constellation in the sky. Have them repeat this 20 minutes later, and again 40 minutes later. Compare the drawings and make conclusions. Did the constellation or the earth move? Why do you think so?
  2. Discuss Tucson's street lights. As an astronomical center, Tucson requires special street lights to diminish light pollution. The famous telescopes located on the University campus and in the mountains around Tucson can view the heavens effectively only if light pollution does not interfere. Our street lights are designed to cast the light downward (not upward) and contain special, low voltage bulbs. This respect for the advancement of science makes Tucson a very unique city in which to live.
  3. Discuss events or objects we know about because photography allows us to see what we could not experience with our eyes alone. For instance, before Eadweard Muybridge photographed a series of pictures of a horse galloping in the late 1880s, people misunderstood how the horse actually moves its feet. And how about microscopic images, and time-lapse images? What can we see using these that would be otherwise impossible?

 

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