Mars, an afternoon view of Gusey Crater. Credit: NASA JPL/Michael Benson, Kinetikon Pictures.

Mars, an afternoon view of Gusey Crater. Credit: NASA JPL/Michael Benson, Kinetikon Pictures, courtesy of Flowers Gallery

Travel to the remote edges of our solar system in Otherworlds

Go on a photographic journey through space next year in a stunning new exhibition by Michael Benson at the Natural History Museum, running from 22 January 2016 - 15 May 2016.

Go on a photographic journey through space next year in a stunning new exhibition by Michael Benson at the Natural History Museum, running from 22 January 2016 - 15 May 2016.

These 77 composite images by artist, curator and writer Michael Benson represent a joining together of art and science: raw data provided by NASA and ESA missions has been painstakingly processed and assembled for public display. This exhibition will explore the beauty of our Solar System and demonstrate that the visual legacy of six decades of space exploration constitutes a visually stunning, important chapter in the history of photography.

Museum researchers have partnered with Benson to bring additional science content in the new show. An audio guide complements the striking visuals with insights into the work of leading Museum scientists such as Dr Joe Michalski, who is investigating the geological processes that shaped Mars to better understand the early life of our own planet.

Michael Benson comments, “In the past 60 years, an audacious, utterly consequential story has unfolded. Combining rocket science with the innate human drive to explore, after millennia of speculation about the planets, the first expeditions to the solar system’s far-flung worlds have taken place. Through the agency of a small squadron of increasingly sophisticated robotic spacecraft, we’ve seen Earth dwindle to the size of a pearl, and then a pixel, as we voyaged far beyond any place ever directly visited by human beings.

He continues: “As a result, the archipelago of planets within which the Earth turns has become tangibly, vividly real. Otherworlds is a retrospective survey of an entire genre of photography and an overview of the solar system’s quite dazzling diversity of landscapes.”

Understanding how these landscapes were formed is a part of the Museum’s planetary science research, using our celestial neighbours to understand the early formation of Earth, how the solar system first began and what life is like on other planets. Researchers refer to the Museum’s world-leading collection of 2000 meteorites in their work, and contribute to remote-sensing research with colleagues at NASA and ESA, including the current Rosetta mission.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Michael Benson to bring these images to London, reframing how we see our Solar System,” says Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum. “These images are not only works of art, they are also created from the very same data that Museum scientists use to understand the 4.5 billion year history of our solar system, our planet and life on it.”

Buy tickets online at www.nhm.ac.uk/otherworlds from 25 September 2015.

Ends

Notes for editors

  • The Natural History Museum welcomes more than five million visitors a year and is a world-leading science research centre. Through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling the biggest challenges facing the world today. It helps enable food security, eradicate disease and manage resource scarcity. It is studying the diversity of life and the delicate balance of ecosystems to ensure the survival of our planet. For more information go to www.nhm.ac.uk
  • Michael Benson's work focuses on the intersection of art and science. Benson takes raw data from planetary science archives and processes it to create prints of landscapes currently beyond direct human experience. A photographer, writer and curator, he has recently staged a series of large-scale shows of planetary landscape photography, in the United States and internationally, most notably from 2010-2011 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. He is also an award-winning filmmaker. Benson’s last book was Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space Through Time (Abrams, 2014). He is a regular contributor to major newspapers such as The New York Times, a Fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities, and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Bits and Atoms at the MIT Media Lab. For more information go to www.michael-benson.net

For further information, please contact the Natural History Museum Press Office

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