The Illuminated Field
A Scintillation of Particles and Waves
The Observer Effect
Corrected Perspective
Thresholds & Displacements
The Implicate Order
XYZ-NYC 10 Downing





The Observer Effect

From the Australian Telescope Compact Array.

Exhibited at Swinburne for one night only with a live connection to the ATCA Observatory, 17 August 2016 for Science Week.

With thanks to Professor Sarah Maddison Dean of Science at Swinburne, Dr Jamie Stevens, Chief Scientist at ATCA, CSIRO, & Artem Bourov.

Leslie Eastman’s diverse art practice examines the encounter between the perceiver and the surrounding world. Working with Professor Sarah Maddison from Swinburne University, Leslie spent several days in April filming at the Paul Wild observatory.

The radio observatory—with its emphasis on visible and invisible light—is an ideal site to consider the nature and limits of human perception and the impact of technology. The process whereby scientists evaluate hypothetical ideas about the known and unknown through observation has certain parallels with subjective experience in which we frame everyday activities. Whilst working in very different ways both scientific and artistic observations are thresholds in which our worldview and experience are tested and expanded. Both art and science seek to enlarge our understanding of the universe.

The Compact Array was a visionary project built in the 1980s that helped initiate a culture of research, engineering and software expertise unprecedented in Australia, with manifold benefits extending far beyond the initial investment. Despite the world class science and specialist knowledge produced at the observatory for the past two decades, the Compact Array remains relatively unknown in the Australian imagination.    

The Observer Effect sees science though an artist’s lens, exploring the lesser known story of the experience and impact of the science that we do in Australia upon individuals and communities. The Observer Effect celebrates the remarkable and very Australian astronomical achievement that the Compact Array represents. It looks at the overlooked dimensions of this historic site- the profound human value to the astronomers, engineers and locals who worked there. The radio dishes of the compact array look out to the furthest reaches of the universe whilst the exhibition looks inwards to the remarkable setting of the observatory in the remote Australian outback. Here generations of astronomers travelled from around the world to learn the principles of radio astronomy and do research. The Observer Effect records the human dimension of the lives of this community who worked and continue to work in proximity to this unique instrument. It emphasises the collegial, informal science and friendships that emerged from these encounters. These tacit exchanges formed the basis of shared knowledge, expertise and unexpected scientific discoveries. The exhibition included prerecorded and live footage from the observatory as well as discussions by astronomers who worked at the observatory.


The Observer Effect, pilot project, installation view, Swinburne Cloisters, 2016.

The Observer Effect, pilot project, installation view, Swinburne Cloisters, 2016.

The Observatory at ATCA, Professor Sarah Maddison, Mat Agnew.

Human Time, the observatory at ATCA.

Cosmology, The Library, ATCA.

Absent Observers, ATCA.

The old whiteboard, observatory, ATCA

All images copyright Leslie Eastman