The Universe Makers
Bianca Salvo explores the roles that photography, technology, and science fiction have played in producing evidence. Using collected documents and visual records, The Universe Makers (2016 – 18) addresses public beliefs and false perceptions of interstellar exploration. Positioned alongside an escalator and the northbound platform at Osgoode subway station, the images derived from Salvo’s multimedia project disrupt the conventions of advertising. The Universe Makers draws largely from 1960s archives, a timeline in keeping with the history of the subway station, which opened in 1963. Situated among courthouses in Toronto’s justice precinct, Osgoode station also borders the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. These proximate urban landmarks offer fitting context for a photo-based project examining the integrity and theatricality of images that document historic events—where the boundary between truth and fiction is at stake.
An Italian artist who lives and works between Milan and Bogotá, Salvo has a background in psychology, which informs her interest in how people construct a sense of veracity through photography. Here, the artist describes her project:
The Universe Makers is the result of a two-year research project on space imagery and is presented as an inquiry on representative patterns and figurative models upon which our pop culture psyche is based, and which still profoundly influence our attitudes toward science and outer space.
The future of civilization is certainly a matter of concern for humanity. From the appearance on television of the first man on the moon in 1969—some 50 years ago—to the recently cancelled mission of Mars One that promised to create a permanent human settlement on Mars, the possibility of life beyond Earth has established itself concretely in our minds. On the one hand, documents and visual records collected over the past years from institutions and research centres have had a fundamental role in providing us with vivid depictions of the remote universe and realistic proof of space exploration’s feasibility. On the other hand, science fiction has massively contributed to our ideas of an infinite galaxy—one waiting to be explored, studied, and colonized—through stories that range from the completely bizarre to the highly possible.
Using these assumptions as a starting point, I have collected documents and images and questioned their informative function through interventions that challenge their authenticity. I have established a parallel dialogue between ultimate proof and fake results, transforming factual evidence into unrealistic scenarios.
The Universe Makers was conceived as a multi-layered installation, comprised of texts, sculptured objects, archival images, still photographs, and a photobook. It explores abstractions of the collective unconscious related to our perception of space exploration. Composed of diverse pieces with titles such as In Event of Moon Disaster, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Stars my Destination, Earthman Come Home and Time and Again, this body of work focuses on analyzing the connections between belief and image.
Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein
Presented in partnership with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Toronto; Supported by PATTISON Outdoor Advertising