“The week the sun met the earth”

If you’ve been lucky enough to experience a total solar eclipse, don’t hesitate. If you haven’t had one, don’t hesitate. Delicately placed on an easel, in the venerable library of the Irish Cultural Center in Paris, there is a shiny plaque that can mesmerize you, like the Moon slowly masking the star of the day, for a good five minutes (1). Cosmic shapes emanating from a video projector slide across its surface. No “classical” scientific image, but a ballet of clear celestial moons, like an escape into the depths of the universe. And if your eye is caught in the changing colors, from red to blue, you will also see yellow feathers, traces of solar magnetic storms that shake our terrestrial and satellite communications systems, and they can even destroy them!

“As a step into the unknown”

Finally, a mysterious ghostly hand of the now-disappeared dancer Emma O’Kane passes in front of the camera of filmmaker Christopher Ash. Sometimes a large blue circle stops, like the iris of a cosmic eye that would have turned toward the viewer. “Like a step into the unknown” according to Siobhán McDonald, author of “The Week the Sun Touched the Earth,” which says it took several years to develop and today gives its name to the entire exhibition. 22 works, paintings, lithographs, sculptures, film screenings, etc. whose names range from solar black / solar white to quartz, to Resonator …

Fascinated by magnetic storms, wondering how the ancient Irish people might have perceived the power of the Sun, the artist now residing at the famous Trinity College Dublin, immersed himself in Annals dating back to the 7th century. “smelling and raising dust from the library”, she smiles. But he also met current scientists, some of the most advanced solar scientists at ESA and NASA, who designed the Solar Orbiter satellite and collected the data. Peter Gallagher, head of the astrophysics department at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Study (DIAS), who was heavily involved in the design of the software that drives the satellite, had traveled to Paris for a introductory round table, during the inauguration on April 14 of this ephemeral exhibition. Smiling, voice “space as a magnificent playground for humans. We will always continue to explore it”.

“Study for a volcano”

And he wonders about the fate of our Moon … “Maybe we’ll end up coming back” – on leaving, sarcastic, “Billionaires have fun doing space tourism. That’s their money”. The artist, meanwhile, takes advantage of the dialogue to thank a materials specialist, John O’Donoghoe of Enbio, an Irish company that designed the thermal shield for the solar orbit facing extreme temperatures. He inspired his painting Heat Shield. For those who remember the spectacular eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in 2010, we recommend that you do not miss “Study for a Volcano”. For more than two minutes, images of the spectacular ash blows are projected onto a six-inch-tall glass prism covered in 24-carat gold, solid silver and smoke. Siobhán McDonald points to the table in the center of the library. To all lovers of Newton’s prisms, he wants to point out that in these good weather days, around four in the afternoon, a ray of sunshine falls on the diamond-cut quartz that has been deposited. . A promise of rainbow colors.

1) Until April 29. Library on the 1st floor, Irish Cultural Center (ICC). 5, rue des Irlandais 75005, Paris. Free admission (2pm to 6pm, Wednesday until 8pm). Information: 01.58.52.10.30

Dialogue with the universe
After two years of research in 2016-2017 at the SETI Institute, which specializes in extraterrestrial intelligence research, artist George Bolster created stunning tapestries with bewildering landscapes, oscillating between the American Far West and the suns of science fiction.

Fascinated by exoplanets – “There could be a billion in the Milky Way” – and through the possible dialogue between humans and other species wherever they are, it also pays homage to the humpback whale, whose immense back seen from the sky emerges from the foam. Whale whose song includes syntax, according to the work of Laurance Doyle of the SETI Institute in California, in search of extraterrestrial intelligence signals (see Video). Hence the title of the exhibition “All Life Communicates”, which will be unveiled until June 5 at the CCI.

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