When our Sun sets, a thousand suns rise to light the night. This reality is lost in urban areas, where artificial light dominates the night. I seek out the vanishing night sky by travelling from the city to pristine dark sky locations in Ontario and Quebec. I am drawn to the night sky because it invites observation and awareness. I believe the forms and colours of the night sky – light I capture from distant stars, nebulae and galaxies – offer a unique window to explore human awareness of the cosmos and our perception of reality. Urban dwellers are cut off from sensory awareness of the night, an important part of the human experience, because we accept obliteration of the night by artificial lighting. We assume the night is featureless, opaque, and unsafe. By seeking out pristine starry skies, I recover what is lost in the city: serenity, solitude, reconnection with the natural world.
My practice requires presence under the stars. I travel to dark skies with portable telescopes, oculars, lenses and digital cameras. I am conscious each time that I am setting course to intersect with light that has travelled great distances to reach me. Photographic exposures reveal fantastic forms and colours in the night sky. I am interested more in my perception of these than in their names or physical attributes – that is, the subjective rather than objective reality. Total exposures in my images can range from seconds to minutes to several hours, sometimes captured over multiple nights, which I digitally combine and process in my studio. I believe the image begins in my mind’s eye long before the photons land on the camera’s sensor; it is created through a series of conscious choices that conflate the observer and the observed.