Tate Modern Talk

Are we darkened by light? Catherine Heymans, Katie Paterson, Marek Kukula, chaired by Asif Khan

Human history has been a quest to light the dark, but today most of humanity spends more time bathed in electronic light than our primary source: the sun. What different forms of light are we exposed to, and can we ever switch off?

A panel of artists, scientists and architects examine our contemporary urban experiences of light and how we understand 95% of the universe that we cannot see: dark energy and dark matter. What are the social and political implications of our lust for light, and are we now darkened by it?

With astrophysicist Catherine Heymans, artist Katie Paterson and the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s public astronomer Marek Kukula. This event will be chaired by architect Asif Khan.

Panelist biographies

Catherine Heymans

Catherine Heymans has used the world’s best telescopes to map out invisible dark matter and confront different theories on the origin of the dark side of our Universe.  Since completing her PhD at Oxford University in 2003, Catherine has held fellowships from the Max-Planck Institute and the Canadian Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics. She is currently a Reader at the University of Edinburgh, a European Research Council Fellow and a member of the Young Academy of Scotland. When she is not busy unveiling the mysteries of the Universe or enthusiastically lecturing undergraduates, she can usually be found building sandcastles and paddling in the sea with her three small children.  

Katie Paterson

Collaborating with leading scientists and researchers across the world, Katie Paterson’s poetic and conceptual projects consider our place on Earth in the context of geological time and change. Her artworks make use of sophisticated technologies and specialist expertise to stage intimate, poetic and philosophical engagements between people and their natural environment. Paterson has exhibited in major shows including the Hayward Gallery, Tate Britain, Kunsthalle Wien, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Her artworks are represented in collections including the Guggenheim, New York and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. She was winner of the Independent’s Creative 30 award ‘for Britain’s most creative young person’ and most recently the winner of the Visual Arts category of the 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Awards. Paterson was also awarded an Honorary Fellowship at Edinburgh University in recognition of her ‘major contribution in fostering collaboration between the arts and sciences.’ 

Marek Kukula

Marek Kukula is a Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Marek obtained his PhD in Radio Astronomy at Jodrell Bank Observatory and has since carried out research into galaxies and black holes at a number of institutions including the Space Telescope Science Institute, home of the Hubble Space Telescope. As the Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, he is part of a team of astronomy education and outreach specialists who engage with the public, schools and the media. Marek is a judge on the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition and in 2015 he co-curated the exhibition dark frame/deep field, which juxtaposed the work of six contemporary artists with vintage NASA photographs. He is the author of The Intimate Universe and the co-author of The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who, both published in 2015.

Asif Khan

Asif Khan’s London-based practice works across the fields of architecture, industrial and furniture design and is dedicated to pushing these disciplines in innovative and unexpected directions. In recognition of his design and delivery of the MegaFaces Pavilion at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Khan was awarded a Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Innovation. Khan’s projects have been shortlisted for the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition, the Light in Winter Festival 2014 in Melbourne, the UK Pavilion for Milan Expo 2015 and ‘Parhelia’ for Swarovski at Design Miami. In 2010 Khan was the first architect to be chosen for the Designers in Residence programme at the Design Museum London and was awarded Designer of the Future in 2011 by Design Miami. Khan lectures globallyon his work and in the past has spoken at Harvard University, The Royal Academy, London, India Design Forum and Design Indaba in Cape Town.

Part of the International Year of Light in collaboration with the Institute of Physics.

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

21 November 2015 at 14.00–16.00