Michael Benson

Michael Benson’s work focuses on the intersection of art and science. A writer, artist, and filmmaker, in the last decade Benson has staged a series of increasingly large-scale shows of planetary landscape photography in the US and internationally. Benson takes raw data from planetary science archives and processes it, editing, compositing, and then ‘tiling’ individual spacecraft frames, producing seamless large-format digital C prints of landscapes currently beyond direct human experience. His latest museum show opened in the Jerwood Gallery of London’s Natural History Museum on January 22nd, was subsequently presented at the NHM in Vienna, and is currently on view at the Queensland Museum, Brisbane (March 2017 to January 2018). Containing 77 digital C prints, Otherworlds features an hour-long ambient music composition by Brian Eno. In its depiction of alien landscapes currently beyond direct human experience, Benson’s work makes the case that the visual legacy of sixty years of robotic planetary exploration constitutes a consequential chapter in the history of photography. He is also an award-winning filmmaker, with work that straddles the line between fiction and documentary film practice. In Predictions of Fire and other films, staged studio scenes and animated sequences alternate with straight documentary material. In 2008-10, Benson worked with director Terrence Malick to help produce space and cosmology sequences for Malick’s film Tree of Life, which drew in part from Benson’s book and exhibition projects. The film won the Palm d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. He also contributed to Malick’s new film Voyage of Time. Benson’s fifth book for Abrams, Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space Through Time, came out in October 2014, receiving front-page coverage in The New York Times. The book was a finalist for the Science and Technology award at the 2015 Los Angeles Times “Festival of Books.” His new book, Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece, will be published by Simon & Schuster on the 50th anniversary of the release of that film, April 2nd, 2018. Benson has contributed to many magazines and newspapers, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Rolling Stone. He is currently using scanning electron microscopes to focus on natural design at sub-millimeter scales for a project titled Nanocosmos. Michael Benson is a Fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities, a recent Visiting Scholar at the Center for Bits and Atoms in the MIT Media Lab, and a Weizmann Institute of Science Advocate for Curiosity.

For more on his work, see www.michael-benson.com