Katie Paterson (b. 1981) works across all media. Her approach is multi-disciplinary and conceptually driven, with an emphasis on nature, ecology, geology and cosmology. Her projects often make use of sophisticated technologies and specialist expertise to stage intimate, poetic and philosophical engagements with the natural environment.
100 Billion Suns is a project first developed for the Venice Biennale in July 2011. The work recreates a history of Gamma Ray Bursts, the brightest explosions in the universe. Katie enlisted the help of Professor Richard Ellis, an astronomer from Caltech, looking for the universe’s first stars. At one of the world’s largest observatories on the 4,200 meter high summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, they witnessed gamma ray bursts, explosions in far off galaxies that date back more than 11 billion years, shortly after the Big Bang and long before the Earth came into existence. These bursts release as much energy in one giant, self-destructive blast as our sun will in its entire 10 billion year run. These are the brightest known events in the universe, their intense illumination only now reaching us across space and time even having occurred billions of light years away.
Paterson’s response to the enormity of this idea is playfully and pointedly light-hearted. 100 Billion Suns consists of a small, hand held cannon that fires 3216 pieces of confetti, colour coded to match the hue and quantity of each of the gamma ray bursts known to have occurred. At the Vernissage of the 54th Venice Biennale canons were set off in varied locations, from palaces to street corners, with each explosion documented in a photograph.
For Art HK 12 Ingleby Gallery stage a Hong Kong version of this performance, setting off a canon at a different location every day. The first, on the day of the Vernissage, will be exploded in the Ingleby Gallery booth, leaving the traces of the confetti on the floor that will remain for the duration of the fair. On each subsequent day the canon will be fired at a different location in the city and an empty frame on the booth will be filled with a photograph of that day’s explosion.
The images will also be posted daily here on the Ingleby Gallery website.