Alex Turner

Alex Turner (b. Chicago, Illinois) combines imaging technologies to highlight the profusion of sociopolitical and environmental concerns taking place in the borderlands of the American Southwest. In 2018, he was awarded the University of Arizona Carson Scholarship and N-Gen Sonoran Desert Researchers Grant for his interdisciplinary research and artwork. He was selected to present his work Blind River at the Society of Photographic Education National Conference in Houston, TX in March of 2020. A Chicago native, Turner received his BA in Studio Art from DePaul University in 2008 and is currently pursuing an MFA at the University of Arizona. He splits his time between Tucson, Arizona and Los Angeles, California.

An occultation is defined as ‘the state of being hidden from view or lost to notice.’ In astronomy, this commonly refers to an interrupted view due to a passing celestial body, such as an eclipse.

Thirty miles south of Tucson, Arizona at the Whipple Observatory, astrophysicists have been searching for planets outside our solar system. Using a variety of technologies, including a powerful multiple mirror telescope (MMT) at the summit of Mt. Hopkins, researchers have been identifying these distant planets by monitoring celestial bodies as they pass in front of stars. Recently, however, mounting challenges have threatened this work. With encroaching development from nearby cities and mining operations on surrounding mountains, light pollution is disrupting their ability to observe the night sky.

Light is one of the most important tools for researching the universe, however its usage on our own planet ironically inhibits our ability to see. As a result, humanity’s constant expansion and development on Earth has created its own occultation, interrupting our capacity to look beyond what is in our own backyard.

Night Sky Above Radio Tower Light, Patagonia, Arizona (12-Minute Exposure)
Archival Inkjet Print, 18.75″ x 15″

Night Sky with Passing Semi-Truck (1-Minute Exposure)
Archival Inkjet Print, 15″ x 12″

Telescope Chamber Doors Opening Towards Nogales, Arizona and Sonora (12-Second Exposure)
Archival Inkjet Print, 25″ x 20″

Nogales, Arizona and Sonora Viewed from Rotating Telescope Chamber (20-Second Exposure)
Archival Inkjet Print, 20″ x 25″

Night Sky Above Tucson, Arizona (10-Minute Exposure)
Archival Inkjet Print, 18.75″ x 15″