Risa Horowitz
Imaging Saturn (Modeling Views)

Dagmara Genda
Platform Centre for Photographic + Digital Arts, Winnipeg
January 29–March 12, 2016
Risa Horowitz Rings (detail), installation view, Platform Centre, Winnipeg, 2016.
Photo: courtesy of the artist
Nestled close to Platform Gallery’s office doors is the most compelling piece in Risa Horowitz’s recent solo show, Imaging Saturn (Modeling Views): a flat screen monitor that plays a video, subtitled with scrolling marquee, depicting a slowly rotating model of the ringed planet. The actual model can be found just around the corner, among other buzzing contraptions, a wall decal and photographs, in this varied multi-media exhibition. In contrast to its silent presence in the video, the model is a halting machine that audibly whirs in the brightly lit space. 

Where the kinetic sculpture actively eschews artifice, the video indulges it with close-ups of a monochrome “Saturn” seemingly floating in a thick black vacuum. Though the metal cable suspending the model is visible against the surrounding darkness, the effect is still enigmatic and hints at the impossibility of objective knowledge. The scrolling text further emphasizes this: presenting selected excerpts from letters Galileo wrote to Mark Wesler, a German politician and businessman supportive of what, at the time, were new and controversial ideas. Though the letters were chiefly about sunspots, Galileo also observes that Saturn is not a “single star, but is a composite of three.” In a subsequent letter, he corrects himself when he discovers that the planet has changed shape. What once comprised a trinity is now a single object, though he predicts the accompanying celestial bodies will eventually return. Translated from Italian into a baroque, floral English characteristic of the time, the text situates science as temporal. It highlights how time and technology influence what we know.

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