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Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand

Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand: Transit of Venus
NEW YORK  •  I-20 Gallery  •  Ongoing
On June 8, 2004, an extremely rare celestial event will unfold before the eyes of geographically and meteorologically fortunate viewers: the passage of Venus between the Sun and the Earth, causing the fiery methane-enveloped planet to appear as an undulating silhouette with an aqua-green halo, floating upon the face of the Sun. The phenomenon is known as the Transit of Venus and occurred last in 1882.

Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand: Transit of Venus
Photo courtesy of I-20 Gallery

In order to distill all of the subtle nuances of the Transit, artists Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand are creating a Machina Helioscopica, a telescope with a compound lens attached, allowing the telescopic image to be projected on a screen without the use of any recording media or electronic amplification. A coelostat will follow the Sunís trajectory and send its reflected image from a rotating mirror to the telescope.

Because the Transit of Venus will only be seen in New York during sunrise, from 5:30 to 7:30 AM on June 8, the solar screening room, which stands on the dramatic roof top of I-20, will open to the public at 5 AM. The exhibition will continue during regular gallery hours with daily projection of the intense, ever-changing activities of the Sun, until three days after the summer solstice on June 21. The installation will function only when the sky is clear enough for the Sun to be seen. Partial cloudiness and haziness are acceptable, but rain and thick clouds will prevent the installation from working.

There have been only five recorded observations of past Venusian Transits. Since the phenomenon was discovered, it has always been a much-anticipated event and many governments have sponsored expeditions to observe the transit from favorable geographical locations. The scientific goal was to determine the distance between the Sun and the Earth, an Astronomical Unit Ė the measuring stick of the Universe. However, such attempts failed due to the optical trickery of the Venusian atmosphere. This time around, the event will have a purely aesthetic value.

Since 1998, Evelina Domnitch, born in Minsk, Belarus, and Dmity Gelfand, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, have been collaboratively developing interdisciplinary artworks that integrate chemi-physical experimentation with optics and computer science.

I-20 Gallery Web Site

Contact: I-20 Gallery
529 West 20th Street, 11th Floor
New York 10011
Tel: (1) 212) 645 11 00

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