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Your Body Is a Space That Sees is a series of large-scale cyanotype works inspired by the fragmented history and contributions of women in astronomy. The series offers a visual account and female-centric astronomical catalog of craters, comets, galaxies, and nebulae, drawing from narrative, visual, and historical accounts of a group of women known as “Pickering’s Harem” or the “Harvard Computers,” who worked at the Harvard Observatory starting in 1879. This little-known group of women made a significant impact in the field of astronomy by using photographic glass plates to catalogue and classify the size, brightness, and chemical content of stars. The key to unlocking the distance of the universe was discovered by one of these women, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, based on her observation of variable stars. Her discoveries provided evidence that subsequently supported Edwin Hubble’s expanding universe theories. The important contributions of these women to the fields of astronomy and astrophotography were compensated with wages less than half of what their male counterparts would have been paid.

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These images were originally published in diacritics, volume 44, issue 1, in 2016.


Lia Halloran (images)/Johns Hopkins University Press (article)

From Your Body Is a Space That Sees, 2016