When Nightfall Comes

When Nightfall Comes

by Jayne Fenton Keane, November 2013

“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly, to be fearful of the night.”[1]

It took 312 orbits for a NASA satellite to capture the image below. I’m looking for the pixel of light emanating from the Queensland Museum. Luminosity is reflected in the glow of electricity stretching across the planet like a giant nervous system. The arcs and streams of this electric cartography reflect the way we are connected: our genetic wiring towards community. Through neuroscience research we know that a “reward circuit is triggered in our brains when we cooperate with one another [making us] more cooperative and less selfish than most people believe” [2].


When I look at this NASA image  of Brisbane’s electric nervous system captured from space, I am intrigued by how fecund the light looks in its womb like architecture stretching from Brisbane to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. The map makes visible the fact that science and creativity are everywhere, every day, all the time.

Zooming into the wattage of the Queensland Museum I watch luminosity infuse the INVENTory space as a new installation takes shape to shine “a flicker of light into the afterhours, unknown ecosystems of the dark” [3].

Nightfall is Keith Armstrong and Lawrence English’s latest iteration of a piece that they say draws its inspiration from James Miller’s concept of the extinction of human experience. Images below are from the Armstrong and English’s Queensland Museum exhibition.


Nightfall they say:

ponders the aspects of life that have traditionally sat at the edges of human perception – lying all but extinct in our consciousness. The work utilises a range of cinematic illusionary techniques to bring to life an array of media including seasonal field recordings (sourced across the east coast of Queensland), video, light and robotics which coalesce together to create a detailed and evolving micro environment. [4]

But aside from the visual mysteries of the night that evade our perception of infrared wavelengths, the dark wraps us in a sonic atmosphere that is beyond our hearing. This sonic realm is where bats communicate with each other.

The exhibition “Nightfall” is a classic science-art convergence that evokes rather than represents the bat.

Staged on the very edge of blackness, and moving into the deep dark of night, Nightfall examines the many shades of ‘nocturnal’, threats to night biodiversity and the myriad myths and stories that have long shaped our cultural understandings of life after light. Barely recognisable images float within landscapes of media, noise and sound as the work asserts its resistance to today’s all consuming media mesh. [5]


Featuring animatronics, sound scapes, viewing portals that insinuate camera and telescope lenses, the exhibition is supported by an active program for visitors. The installation is due to open in the Southbank Campus of the Queensland Museum Network on December 7, 2013 and it will run until January 27, 2014. Check the  website for details of launches, programs and any other INVENTory news

[1] Sarah Williams, (E.A. Plumptre), ‘Memoir’, in Sarah Williams, Twilight Hours. “A Legacy of Verse”, 3rd edition, London: Strahan & Co., 1872

[2] Benkler Y, “The unselfish gene”, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2011, pp.77-85.

[3] Keith Armstrong and Lawrence English artistic statement

[4] ibid