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2021 SPE Annual Conference: Imagining Legacy: Archives, Collections, and Memoria

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Julia Bradshaw

SPE Member since 2005
Member Chapter: Northwest

Inside the Belly of the Cosmic Whale and other Cosmic Explorations

With her most recent body of work "Inside the Belly of the Cosmic Whale and other Cosmic Explorations", artist Julia Bradshaw uses playful strategies to effectively bamboozle her audience. Her photographs evoke an exploration into outer space and reference historic astronomical photographs with their enigmatic annotations. The deceit is intentionally humourous and subtly engages the audience into looking more closely at the images. The intent is to help the viewer forge connections to their own cosmic imaginations.

The Belly of the Cosmic Whale and other Cosmic Explorations" speaks to early scientific astronomical photography. Here the artist and scientist meet. Both deal with visual material. However, one requires extraordinary investment in science and engineering; the other explores the mad-richness of inner head-space. She both escapes reality, and makes reality.

The project is a creative response to astronomical explorations, space photography, and early scientific renditions of space. Examining historical and contemporary images of planets and other cosmic features, I note the language of astronomy and science; such as the alphanumeric designations, the mythological proper names of the bright stars, and the baffling descriptions of the image-content. Formally, Bradshaw is interested in the indexical information: the registration marks, the handwritten annotations, the image-joinery, and the overabundance of arrows.

Her intent is to make observations about scientific images and scientific annotations and to create delightful confusion through wit. The project empowers imagination in conjunction with science. It is an embrace of space exploration and a warmer embrace of imaginary-explorations.

The project forms my response to the language of astronomy. The photographs are made using traditional silver-gelatin processes to create an association with the early historical photographs. She makes use of rudimentary tools, analogue processes, and manipulates the images with knife, pen, dye, joins, and reversals.

More complete information with more images are on her website:

GRB 130472DA

Lunar Sample Collection Site

Ring Crater

E-ELT M5421

Chaos Inducing Cosmic Explosion


Leftward of 17298

Giant Impact Crater Debris

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