Mount Wilson Observatory

Soaring a mile above Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains, Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO) is an astronomical observatory and site of historic scientific discovery, contemporary research, and sweeping views. Since its founding by George Ellery Hale in 1904, MWO has served to revolutionize science. It came to house the most advanced observational equipment of the time, including the 60-inch Hale telescope, followed by the 100-inch Hooker telescope, which was the world’s largest for over thirty years. Historic discoveries at MWO include the detection of the sun's magnetic field, the first observations of spiral galaxies, Albert A. Michelson's first speed of light tests, and Edwin Hubble's early research that supported the Big Bang Theory and the theory of an expanding universe. It has been visited by many scientific luminaries including Albert Einstein and innovative research continues to this day. Just as the Copernican revolution ushered radical perceptual changes throughout religious and secular society in the 16th century, so too has our shared consciousness been molded by discoveries of the last one hundred years. Mount Wilson Observatory is a locus from which nearly a century of such advances in astronomical exploration extend.

KNOWLEDGES at Mount Wilson Observatory brings together a constellation of contemporary Los Angeles artists whose work extends from the nexus of ideas embodied by the Observatory itself: astronomy, scientific discovery, space exploration, optics, recorded observation, philosophical questions of cosmology, the history, aesthetics and ecology of the site and its influence upon the cultural landscape of Los Angeles. The exhibition concept is to create a site-specific dialogue between artists and the working Observatory. Many Los Angeles artists create work that is informed by technological and scientific discoveries that take place right here in Southern California--from the use of new materials created for the aerospace industry to aesthetic sensibilities informed by popular space photography, but they have never investigated their source. KNOWLEDGES' exhibitions contextualize aesthetics and inquiries developing in art, and how they participate in dialogue with innovations in science and astronomy.

Image: Supermoon over Mount Wilson Observatory, 2012 by Dave Jurasevich