March 15 to May 5, 2013
Celestial Rose, 2012, photographic print on aluminum, 91 x 91 cm. Courtesy of the artist
Artist and photographer Sanjeev Sivarulrasa uses astrophotography to explore, experience and share the serenity of the night sky.
“I think urban dwellers are cut off from the sensory experience of the night—an important part of the human experience—because we have come to accept the domination of man-made light,” he says. “We need to trust our senses in experiencing the world around us. That world around us, half the time, is under darkness.”
“I see astrophotography as a tool. I first started observing the night sky through telescopes and eyepieces several years ago. Then I started using modern digital cameras, in particular cooled CCD cameras, which become powerful tools to explore the night sky when coupled to lenses and telescopes.”
While most astrophotography happens in the confines and comfort of an observatory, Sivarulrasa goes to extremes to be “present” in capturing the night skies our ancestors once saw. His work parallels the tradition of renowned plein air artists such as Tom Thomson, taking his direct experience of nature and developing it further in the studio.
“To be present I carry my gear to pristine dark skies and set-up and take-down for each session. Setting up for deep sky imaging takes me about two hours after I’ve arrived at a site. Presence is underrated in science but is essential to me as an artist—I am not sure how I could convey the intrigue of the night sky if I am not there to see and sense it.”
Interview excerpt by Ottawa journalist Becky Rynor.
Now based in Ottawa, Sanjeev Sivarulrasa was born in Sri Lanka. He holds two law degrees, but gave up working as a specialist in international tax law to work full-time as an artist. Using portable telescopes, lenses and digital cameras, he captures his images under pristine dark skies in Ontario and Quebec. His work is a unique synthesis of visual art, photography and the ancient science of astronomy. He has shown in group and solo exhibitions at Cube Gallery and the Algonquin Art Centre.
The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council.
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