Refraction, 2011

Lake Tyrrell in the semi-arid Mallee region of Victoria, Australia, once served as a celestial observatory for the indigenous Boorong people. The heavens mirrored in its saline shallows enunciated a sacred reciprocity between sky and country, a reciprocity long ago ruptured by clearing and colonization. This pre-history is reflected in the source of the lake’s name, ‘tyrille’, meaning ‘a space opening to the sky’ analogous to the ‘chora’ of classical Greek myth. In homage to this history I submerged a sheet of gelatin silver film in the lakes’ turbid shallows one moonless night and exposed it to the bare starlight supplemented by a pulse of flash. The resulting record of shadowed particles and muddied refraction looked uncannily like the night sky above.