Abstract

The authors, an astrophysics student and a humanities researcher, developed a simulation of William Herschel's visual experience during his observational runs, bringing to life archival data produced by William and his sister Caroline Herschel, who are credited with having invented modern cosmology. From a media studies perspective, the use of intensive computational resources to produce boring, accurate, realtime simulations of William Herschel's observations helps us to confront our conflation of visual complexity with reality in the era of big data. At the intersection of data science, the history of science and media studies, the project proposes the aesthetics of boredom as a means of dwelling with the sense of big data as “big” relative to modes of knowledge production.

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