The Icons of the Non-Visible exhibition aspires to elucidate the influence of space research and exploration on culture, in order to open the way for epistemological reflections of images of the non-visible.

In 2015-2016, KSEVT will tackle the question “How is the non-visible visible?” in collaboration with experts from the natural sciences, the humanities, and art, by highlighting certain cases in in the framework of exhibitions and expert conventions.

More than half a century of space exploration has generated a myriad of images of outer space. Some of those images were conceived to become icons; some grew iconic on their own, with no such initial intent. The Cultural Center of European Space Technologies in Vitanje has set out to explore these iconic images of outer space, to delve deep into their iconicity. We present Space Sight: a research focus that revolves around the Icons of the Non-Visible exhibition, which is going to bring together such icons – images, and reflections upon them, from quick and short reactions, to longer expert and scholarly analyses and meditations.

From its inception, space exploration has been marked by the absence of personal experience: the usually does not have direct insight into it. Outer space is space beyond human personal experience. The questions that science and art pose about it, the tools they use to access it, the technologies they explore and document it with, are therefore all telling reflections and interpretations of certain philosophical ideas, concepts and visions.

It would seem that our contemporary understanding of outer space mostly relies on scientific data, collected according to scientific methodologies and using advanced technology. Data collection takes place in the broader electro-magnetic spectrum, inaccessible to the human senses as such. Moreover, astrophysical phenomena appear so different from physical phenomena on Earth that familiar metaphors that draw on analogies from Earth are powerless. This is why scientific visualization resorts to various forms of representation, digital animation or algorithms, surface and volume rendering, and composite photography. All of this manipulation generates a series of aesthetic questions, such as:

  • What are the differences between scientific and artistic abstraction?

  • Why do certain images have such great influence on humanity?

Such questions require an understanding of art and aesthetics that researches the relations between perception and the image, and their influence on the individual and society.