Black Drop
by Simon Starlin, UK 2012, 28'
SHOOTING: Christop Manz   VOICE OVER: Peter Capaldi
SOUND: Jochen Jessuzek   PRODUCER: Annette Ueberlein
EDITING: Cristovâo A.dos Reis   PRODUCTION: in association with Modern Art Oxford, and The University of Oxford
TEXT EDITING: Emma Dean, Philip Starling   LANGUAGE: English; subtitles: Italian

Schermo dell'Arte - Archivio Film
Presented at Lo schermo dell'arte FIlm Festival 2013

Through the story of observations of Venus’ rare crossings of the Sun, and of the photographic instruments developed in the last two centuries to record them, this film reconstructs the links between astronomic research and the origins of cinema, through a series of images presented in the form of an atlas. Starling became interested in the relationships between science, art and photography in 2011, when he included the amazing lunar images captured by amateur astronomers James Nasmyth & James Carpenter (authors of the book Illustration for The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite, 1874) in his “constellation of works” for an exhibition project at the Fondazione Merz in Turin.
In Black Drop, the artist pays particular attention to the invention of the ‘photographic revolver’ by Pierre Jules César Janssen (1874), and its influence on both the ‘photographic rifle’ of Etienne Jules Marey, and on the Lumière brothers’ machine. In June, 2012, using the same exposure mode as Janssen (1 frame per second), from the observatory on the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii, Starling shot the last transit of Venus across the Sun predicted for this century, on 35 mm film. This phenomenon won’t occur again for another 105 years. Most of Black  Drop, which, according to the artist, is in fact a piece about the history of cinema and film-making, was shot in black-and-white inside an editing laboratory, capturing a highly skilled editor, Cristovâo A. dos Reis, at work on various materials and on Starling’s footage. The film also generated a book, Black Drop Ciné-roman published in 2013 by Humboldt Books.
Phantom Ride, a piece produced in 2013 for the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain in London, is also linked to the origins of cinema; in parallel, Starling continued his astronomical reconaissance work with the project In Speculum (2013), starring the Great Telescope of Melbourne, in Australia.

Simon Starling
Born at Epsom (UK) 1967, Simon Starling studied at Maidstone College of Art, at Nottingham Trent University and at the Glasgow School of Art. Winner of the Blinky Palermo Prize in 1999, and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists, he won  the prestigious Turner Prize in 2005 with his piece Shedboatshed (Mobile Architecture No 2). Among his one-man shows: Museum of Contemporary Art, Sidney, 2002; Kunstmuseum Basel, 2005; Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, Paris, 2009; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, 2011; Fondazione Merz, Torino, 2011-2012; Tate Britain, Londra; Monash University, Caulfield and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2013. Group shows: Biennale di Sao Paulo 2004; Biennale di Mosca 2007; Biennale di Venezia 2003 and 2009. He lives and works in Denmark.

Selected filmography
2006: Autoxylopyrocycloboros; 2009: Red Rivers (In Search of the Elusive Okapi); D1 – Z1 (22,686,575:1); 2010: Project for a Masquerade

Excerpt of Black Drop - Simon Starling from Modern Art Oxford on Vimeo.

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