Acoustic foam dampens the sound of a darkened space.
Earplugs float in a light-filled void.
A deeper silence.
Halley’s comet passed through our backyard sky late one night in 1986. All of my family - Mum, Dad, my two sisters and I - were outside looking for comets. As we only had one pair of binoculars between us, the plan was that Dad (who had done the research and knew what he was looking for) would find it then help each of us to do the same.
I remember how excited I was at the possibility of seeing a real comet blazing its way through space. That this was something that would spend the next 75 years moving through unseen and unknown parts of the universe before returning for the briefest of visits gave the moment a sense of drama and importance. Even the Ballantynes over the back fence were awake and looking.
It took a while for Dad to find the comet and even longer for me to hold the binoculars steady enough to stop the stars from wobbling. It’s funny that what remains most memorable about this night was not a sense of bearing witness to a unique cosmological event, but the mundaneness of it all - the sore neck from looking up, the sleepiness, the sound my eyelashes made when they scraped against the eyepiece of the binoculars when I blinked ... and the feeling of injustice at having to share these binoculars with my sisters.
Even with Dad’s ‘it’s there’ pointing, I couldn’t make out the comet. But when he suggested I focus on an area of sky framed by the backyard basketball ring, what seemed like an infinite number of comet-like flickers reduced to the amount of stars that could fit into a hoop. That seemed manageable. I had something tangible to hold onto and something to orient myself within. Eventually I found what must have been the comet. In the ring of sky there was a tentative glimmer, barely perceptible, inching out of sight.
Felt Space was presented in the first of two iterations of Immanent Landscape, a group project curated by Utako Shindo, at West Space in Melbourne, 2010.
Photography by Christian Cupurro