Artistic Apparition at ALMA
Observatory hosts monumental golf ball installation

The ALMA Observatory recently received its first art exhibit: a golf ball of enormous proportions, displayed alongside the antennas at an altitude of 5000 metres above sea level on the Chajnantor Plateau. This inflatable work of art is part of a travelling project named Mixed Game (Juego Mixto) by Dagmara Wyskiel, a Polish artist who has lived in Antofagasta, northern Chile, for over a decade.

Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Dagmara Wyskiel
Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Alex Moya.

After the giant ball completes its journey through the Atacama Desert, it will roll on to Grey Glacier in Magallanes and then to the shores of Valparaiso.

“Mixed Game involves the introduction of an enigmatic but at the same time visually synthetic object into diverse open spaces of the landscape,” explains the artist, who is responsible for a production related to contemporary art, graphic design, art education and cultural development. Dagmara Wyskiel adds that “the object introduced suggests that something may have finally appeared in response to our intense and incessant probing into the meaning of the Universe and our reception of waves from beyond. The problem is that something at once so familiar and unexpected may not be exactly what we had in mind.”

For many of the ALMA workers responsible for the daily maintenance of the 66 antennas, the appearance of an enormous orb seemed, for a moment, to be an optical illusion or a dream. Moving in to get a closer look, the surprising nature of the object was revealed to them.

The art piece’s juxtaposition with a vanguard of modern astronomy produces a rare opportunity to share the concepts of both fields with new audiences. In the end, it can be seen that both artists and astronomers must let their imaginations roam if they wish to achieve their goals.

ALMA is the second site for Mixed Game. Before scaling the Andes Mountains, it had already traversed one of the driest places on Earth, the Quillagua Desert, and it will soon cross Patagonia and eventually travel out to sea.

Dagmara Wyskiel has a Masters in Art from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, Poland. She has lived in New York, Tenerife and Frankfurt. In Antofagasta, she has undertaken a variety of initiatives, from both an associative perspective and individual artistic work, which have shaped the art scene in this northern town in Chile.

Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Pablo Carillo.

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