Willem Boshoff On His Art

Teens at the Smithsonian’s ARTLAB+ produced and recorded a series of interviews with our own Chris Kreamer, curator of the African Cosmos exhibition, South African artist Willem Boshoff, and astrophysicists at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Check out the third in this series of interviews below, which highlights South African artist Willem Boshoff, whose work is featured in the exhibition:

Cosmic Connections

Untitled, Gavin Janjtes, South Africa, 1990; National Museum of African Art collection

City in the Moon, Adebisi Fabunmi, Nigeria, 1960’s; National Museum of African Art collection

Read on to learn more about these pieces…

Guest Voices- South African Astronomy Stamps

Our guest post this week is by South African artist Marcus Neustetter, whose work is featured in the African Cosmos exhibition.  To see his work, visit: http://www.marcusneustetter.com/

On the invitation of the South African Post office to design a stamp series celebrating South Africa’s role in astronomy, I further developed my existing research and network at the intersection of art science and technology. My contribution was beyond the designing of the stamps, to negotiating the inclusion of various agencies and facilities, as well as acknowledging the traditional history and astronomical societies that make the local approach to astronomy rich and layered.

The astronomy stamps series designed by Marcus Neustetter

While I was focused on designing each stamp and the first day covers to be both accessible and artistic in conceptual approach and execution, a few key elements maintained throughout the design process. I wanted to work with the technology of the stamp, which resulted in the perforated stamp sheet, the foiling, that echoes the mirroring of the technology used in most of star observation– integrating my own drawings into a dialogue with the facilities, agencies, or represented data.

The marks, drawn in the dark while observing the space between the stars in the night sky of Sutherland in the Karoo region, and data collected from the different observatories, has informed the representation of what I like to call the unexplainable, the unknown, the imaginary, the magic.

For more information and a closer look at the stamp series, click here.

Astronomy in Africa- News and Updates

Visualization of SKA dishes at night. Credit: SKA Organisation/TDP/DRAO/Swinburne Astronomy Productions

  • Yesterday marked the end of a two-day summit hosted at the University of Pretoria to discuss the future of the SKA South Africa site. Astronomers and government officials discussed the benefits that would arise from the project, with human capital development named as the priority.
  • This week Morocco hosts the Global Hands On Universe conference, which brings together teachers, scientists and educators from high schools, universities, research centers, and science centers from around the world to discuss various topics in science education. Global astronomy projects and the connections between astronomy and culture will be key points of discussion for this week’s conference.

Guest Voices: Sutherland Reflections

Our guest post today is by Marcus Neustetter, Johannesburg based artist, cultural activist and producer.

Bringing in 2009’s International Year of Astronomy on the night of New Year’s Eve with the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) just outside the small town of Sutherland, I and artist Bronwyn Lace were invited to create experimental night interventions. These were a precursor to two more weeks of land-art and sky-spectacles. Over the subsequent four years the observatory and the community in Sutherland has seen the manifestation of permanent structures, of quiet contemplations and gentle activations across the sometimes hottest, often coldest and undeniably darkest town in South Africa.

The Sutherland project takes place in collaboration with SAAO, scientists Kevin Govender and Carolina Ödman, the Karoo Hoogland Municipality and local community members. The intention is to address the current relationship between the disadvantaged communities in Sutherland and the international telescopic observatory. The resulting arts interventions employ playful activities to fill the liminal space between these two communities and where their realities lie – between the earth and the stars.

Big Bang, Marcus Neustetter, 2012

Marcus Neustetter and Bronwyn Lace, 2009

Marcus Neustetter and Bronwyn Lace, 2009

Marcus Neustetter and Bronwyn Lace, 2009

Astronomy in Africa- News and Updates

Map showing the core and remote locations for SKA in Africa. Credit: SKA South Africa

The major news of the week is the final decision on the SKA site, which will include both the African and Australian continents, the two regions competing for the bid. In making the decision, South Africa was chosen as the “preferred” site, hosting a greater proportion of the dishes. Design and pre-construction will begin in 2013, with the first phase of SKA being available for research in 2020. SKA South Africa’s Justin Jones has responded to the news by answering questions on the significance of the decision and the impact it will bear on South Africa and the African continent at large.


Astronomy in Africa- News and Updates

Satellite in Kuntunse to be converted for radio astronomy Credit: SKA Africa

  • Last week, Ghana launched a Space Science and Technology Centre in Kuntunse to develop projects and programs in the field of astronomy, astrophysics, and more. The South African Department of Science and Technology and Vodafone have supported the establishment of this center and the development of the Ghana Radio Astronomy Project, which would collect data through the Kuntunse station as part of a network of antennas around the world.

Astronomy in Africa- News and Updates

Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory; Credit: M Gaylard / HartRAO

Astronomy in Africa- News and Updates

Titan's Ontario Lacus and Namibia's Etosha Pan Credit: NASA/JPL/ESA