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The Quintessence: Visual Observation to Astrophysical Knowledge

November 14 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

A STEAMplant Event by Artist-in-Residence Pamela Breda


What knowledge can we gain from a visual recording of the universe?

“The Quintessence,” a visual research project by Pamela Breda, explores the link between visual observation and scientific discoveries in the context of the development of astrophysical knowledge.

“Looking at the skies is a tradition that goes back millennia, evidence of the human desire to explore the space surrounding our planet. Visual observations have become the key referents for the formulation of theories and hypotheses about the physical, material dynamics of outer space. “The greatest scientists are artists as well,” said Albert Einstein. Indeed, the scientific method often resembles that of the artists’ method, as scientists use their creativity to envision theories and hypotheses based on visual observation. Great scientific discoveries – from Nicholas Copernicus’ heliocentric system to Georges Lemaître’s Big Bang Theory – both came from strict observations of heavenly phenomena and from an imaginative output that enabled great astronomers to envision new possible physical explanations of the universe.

Inspired by this idea, through my research I am considering the role of creativity and imaginative thinking, cultural background, inherent biases, and accidental errors in the development of our current knowledge about the universe.”


Pamela Breda is an artist, researcher and educator living and working in London (U.K.). Pamela has been an artist in residence at several institutions worldwide including Cite Internationale Des Arts, PROGR, Botin Foundation, and Bevilacqua la Masa Foundation. Her work has been exhibited internationally in Switzerland, Colombia, London, Italy, Ecuador, and Moscow, among others. Her films have been screened internationally and presented at festivals and art venues such as “Revolutions Per Minute Festival” (Boston, USA), “Digital Film Library”, Clermont- Ferrand Film Festival (Clermont-Ferrand, France), Cite Internatinale Des Arts, (Paris, France), “Vision Du Reel” Film Festival, Media Library (Nyon, Switzerland) “The Bomb Art Factory Film Festival” (London, UK), Sohonya Art Center (Bangalore, India), Francesco Fabbri Foundation for Contemporary Art (Pieve di Soligo, Italy), and Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation (Venice, IT).

Pamela is currently a resident at Pratt Institute’s STEAMplant Initiative, in collaboration with Agnes Mocsy and Ira Livingston.

This event is free & open to the public.