Mitch Robertson: Astronomy Degree
Works in the exhibition
“And like art, cartography reveals fragments of reality through a tissue of lies.” (1)
On June 15, 1936, A. Dean Lindsay ambitiously claimed ownership of all extraterrestrial objects, an outrageous claim nevertheless taken seriously enough that he received numerous purchase offers (2). Such a faith in the uncertain rewards of the unknown has recently been fuelled by advances in spaceflight technology and a progressively overcrowded planet. The consequential desire to exploit anything left anywhere rises to ludicrous proportions in Mitch Robertson’s 2015 exhibition titled Astronomy Degree. For instance, in Star Values (2015) Robertson alters prints of star charts by hand painting each included constellation to resemble zones seen on real estate maps signifying average house prices. He substitutes housing values for star values, which he determines according to the total magnitude, or brightness, of all the stars in each constellation.
Similarly, in Defined Space (2015), he builds real estate zones by connecting stars with lines to form triangular sections of outer space. Then, in his sculpture series, Astronomy Degree (2015), he stresses how representations of astronomical phenomena - diagrams, star charts or other illustrations - are illusory. The absurdity of applying terrestrial real estate mapping to outer space and his misrepresentation of the cosmos parallels the absurdity of a capitalism so addicted to speculation, dominance, and colonization that it will even attempt to procure what it cannot acquire: the unknown and the infinite.
Text by Earl Miller, an excerpt from his essay Mitch Robertson: Astronomy Degree
(1) Evangelos Livieratos and Alexandra Koussoulakou, “Vermeer’s Maps: A New Digital Look in an Old Master’s Mirror,” e-Perimetron 1.2 (Spring 2006): 138.
(2) Virgiliu Pop, Who Owns the Moon? Extraterrestrial Aspects of Land and Mineral Resources Ownership, Vol. 2 (Houten: Springer B.V.: 2008), 2.