Star gazing, craning our necks to the heavens, is the original source of wonder. This awestruck observation is at the root of this print project. Astronomer John Herschel—noted for coining the term “photography”—invented the cyanotype process in 1839. It is synchronistic that Ebtekar chose the Cyanotype process for this project as imagery for this print was culled from the NASA archive.
Equation Of Time employs a conceit of poetic simplicity: An image of the cosmos / Brought to life by the light of the cosmos / The very thing it describes. The NASA image of the night sky, printed as a negative, was paired and exposed over 24x36 inch sheets by the light of the sun. The Cyanotype process is light absorbed into emulsion on paper afterwhich the image is revealed. At the center of each cyanotype print the artist has cut an intricate void in the shape of a Persian window, under which a shimmering silver leaf is inserted to reflect light outward. The print, at once, infinitely absorbs light and reflects it back out.
The phrase "equation of time" is widely used to describe the difference between solar time and mechanical time. The daily rotation of the Earth is irregular and the small differences in the length of day, build up to produce longer differences between the two modes of timekeeping. Prior to the invention of mechanical clocks in the mid-17th century, sundials were the only reliable and generally accepted, standard timepieces. The sundial functions around the idea that when the sun reaches it’s highest point (meridian), it is noon, and when the sun crosses the meridian again the following day, it is noon, again. Mechanical Time functions around the idea that each day is 24 hours long, a notion that is not actually true.
There are only four dates during a calendar year when solar time and mechanical time align. April 15th—the date these Cyanotype prints were produced—is one of these significant dates in astronomy.
About the Artist: Ala Ebtekar is known for his work in painting, drawing, and installation. His work explores the juncture between history and myth, melding together Persian mythology, science, philosophy, and pop culture. Ebtekar’s parents emigrated to the United States from Iran in the 1970s amidst the Iran-Iraq War. The artist was born in California while his parents were doing graduate studies at UC Berkeley. He later lived and traveled in Iran, learning traditional painting in the coffee houses of Tehran. Ebtekar holds an MFA from Stanford University. His work has been exhibited internationally and throughout the United States in such shows as “Migrating Identities” at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Asia Society, NYC, the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, “Proximities” at the Asian Art Museum, UAE, the 2014 Xinjiang Biennale, “State of The Art: Discovering American Art Now” at Crystal Bridges Museum, and “The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989” at the ZKM. Ebtekar’s works are part of notable public and private collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; Berkeley Art Museum, CA, USA; deYoung Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt, Germany.
About Gallery 16 Editions: Gallery 16 was founded by artist Griff Williams in 1993. Amongst the first print studios in the US to combine traditional and digital print methods, G16 continues to invite artists to publish print editions, artist books and multiples. Producing exhibitions, publishing prints, artist books, and multiples with over 250 artists, G16 has worked with the likes of Michelle Grabner, Ari Marcopoulos, Jim Goldberg, Colter Jacobsen, Bill Berkson, Harrell Fletcher, Lynn Hershman, Amy Franceschini, William Kentridge, Tucker Nichols, Libby Black, Deborah Oropallo, Jim Isermann, Graham Gillmore, Mark Grotjahn, Rebeca Bollinger, Rex Ray, and Margaret Kilgallen.