Black Drop — a film shown at the Radcliffe Observatory, February 2013
During February and March 2013, Black Drop – a film by Simon Starling – was shown at the Radcliffe Observatory. It was inspired by the history of the Observatory and the rare planetary phenomenon of the transit of Venus.
The Radcliffe Observatory was built with funds from John Radcliffe’s legacy at the suggestion of the astronomer Dr. Thomas Hornsby, following his observation of the 1769 transit of Venus. The most recent transit of Venus took place in June 2012, and will be the last in our lifetimes. With the medium of film rapidly disappearing, Simon visited Hawaii and Tahiti to film the transit and the sites of previous observations – Point Venus, Tahiti, in 1769 and Honolulu in 1874 – documenting the last transit to be recorded using 35mm technology.
Simon’s film is a multi-layered documentary illustrated with still and moving images of geographical locations and historical information, set against the backdrop of a 35mm film-editing suite.
Black Drop was commissioned by Modern Art Oxford in association with the University of Oxford (the ROQ public art programme and Ruskin School of Art), and presented with the support of Green Templeton College and the Radcliffe Trust.
Simon Starling was shortlisted for the Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Prize in 2004, and was winner of the Turner Prize in 2005. He lives and works in Copenhagen, and is represented in the UK by The Modern Institute, Glasgow.