There’s nothing more profound than outer space with its vast distances and giant galaxies.
But it has largely been ignored as a subject for art - until now, than is, because Katie Paterson is boldly going where others fear to tread. Through extensive research and the exercise of her imagination, she has produced a set of installations that are as wide in scope as they are restrained and discrete in their modes of presentation.
Which ironically makes the echoing halls of the blacked-out Mead a challenging environment for such ephemeral pockets of interest. A full-sized grand piano seems lost in space as it mechanically plays Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, eerily modified by being bounced off the moon itself.
Things fare better in a second room where a comprehensive and ongoing archive of 35mm slides showing variations in the levels of darkness in outer space are presented in a beautifully constructed, horizontally extended light-box that will take a lifetime to fill.
This has more impact, but for sheer visual appeal that matches its conceptual appeal, nothing beats a wall-sized display of the letters that Paterson has sent and continues to send to an American professor each time she learns of the death of a star. As an understated expression of pathos and regret, it’s as good as it gets.