Click to enlargeThe Milky Way/2008
©Liz Nielsen
BRIDGE ART PROJECT 2008
PORTRAIT EARTH UPDATE

Liz Nielsen is a Chicago based photographic installation artist. She received her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (2004), her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2002), and her BA in Philosophy and Spanish from Seattle University (1998). Her artwork has been exhibited in several galleries and alternative spaces in Chicago. She explores themes of science from the perspective of a non-scientist. Nielsen also teaches in the Photo department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is the co-director of the Swimming Pool Project Space, a small storefront gallery in Chicago that exhibits emerging artists and curators.

STATEMENT:
I want to know where the Milky Way came from. The speed of light is so slow. The time it takes for light to travel from there to here fascinates me. At a constant speed of 299, 792, 458 m/s, I consistently wonder: will we ever have the ability to see the beginning, to experience the source? As the universe expands, the distance that the light travels increases, simultaneously, the Earth's technology accelerates. Telescopes get bigger, and we can see farther faster, however, not quite fast enough. Instead of waiting for the beginning of the light to reach our eyes - which we may never see - we have built machines to recreate this beginning. This is to help us discover and interpret what really happened after the big bang. I wait for the empirical data, the evidence; and as I wait, the machines break down. The equipment's particles cannot go fast enough. My camera serves as my time machine; a black box that saves light, stops time, and makes the intangible visibly tangible. These images are taken just after the big bang. They reveal the colossal galactic gas and debris that scattered to form the millions of galaxies and stars we can see from our earthly telescopes today. Infinite light years away, this body of work documents the beginning of time.

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