Big Data, New Senses and the Avatar as Other in Cosmology


Presentation Title:

  • Big Data, New Senses and the Avatar as Other in Cosmology



  • Astronomy is in a period of epistemological and ontological crisis. We now think that most of the universe is ‘dark’, dark matter and dark energy, and emits no light of any kind. I want to discuss the history of astronomy as a science and its symbiotic relationship with technology. Many aspects of the universe cannot be known about until the right technology is invented; as pointed out by many scholars we augment, extend and develop new senses. And many concepts necessary to understand cosmology are untranslateable to our own languages that are derived from our sensory experience that has no history with such phenomena. An epistemological revolution is under way with the arrival with the era of ‘big data’ with the exponential growth of available data. This terrain has been rich for art-science collaborations and a number of astronomers have collaborated with artists. I will review the major tendencies. I will address how some of the approaches of translations studies may be helpful in understanding the nature of these collaborations. If we are badly designed to understand the universe, as a species we have developed ever more sophisticated ‘avatars, our scientific instruments, with whom we work to overcome the deficiencies of our own cognitive systems. As an astrophysicist and an art-science researcher I will bring to bear my own professional background in cosmology to unpack some of the underlying issues.