In several of his works, French artist Laurent Grasso explores the Renaissance– the ‘Age of Discovery’ when science and art were still interlinked and many notions about the world that we now take for granted were still under debate.
Grasso’s 1610 IV (2014) is one of a series of neon works that replicate drawings of star constellations by Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the Italian natural philosopher, astronomer and mathematician who is considered the father of Modern Science. It was in the year 1610 that Galileo published Siderius Nuncius (Starry Messenger), an account of the observations he made using telescopes. The first telescopes were invented in the Netherlands in 1609. Having procured one, Galileo improved the instrument vastly, enabling the observation of distant celestial bodies and thus inaugurating modern astronomy.
In Siderius Nuncius, Galileo recorded his first observations– of distant stars invisible to the naked eye and of the four moons that circle Jupiter. The latter discovery disproved long-held theories of geocentrism in Europe. Galileo’s advocacy of heliocentrism proved costly, leading to accusations of heresy by the Catholic Church following which he was forced to recant his theories and was placed under house arrest till death.
According to Grasso, 1610 IV “reinterprets the original drawing of a constellation of stars and establishes a parallel between the time it takes for light from the stars to reach us and the time it took the Church to rehabilitate Galileo after accusing him of heresy.”