We're all made of stars: The Story of Space transforms Panjim, Goa
The universe is a big place. But how big is it exactly? And how do we determine its size? That’s the pretext to Cosmic Consciousness, an interactive installation that aims to capture “the vastness of the universe” — somewhat like in a planetarium.
Constructed in a series of frames that together form the night sky at a realistic scale, the work employs innovative lighting features, with the frames arranged to depict light years as distances between the celestial bodies. Viewers thus get to familiarise themselves with constellations at an intimate level.
Made by the graduating 2014 batch of BDes students of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and on show at the Adil Shah Palace, Panjim, the installation is a part of the festival, The Story of Space. Ultimately, the work posits, “This is as far as we can see into the universe. It is time, not space, which limits our view.”
A 10-day free and open festival, The Story of Space is billed as India’s first science meets art gathering, and will host site-specific installations across Panjim, at public spaces, galleries, schools and colleges, and even a few hidden locations.
The festival is being organised by The Story Of Foundation, with Jaya Ramchandani, Shaira Sequeira Shetty, Deshna Mehta, Shrinivas Ananthnarayanan and Rahul Gudipudi — the team that presented The Story of Light in 2015. Overall, 72 projects will be presented, including film screenings, talks and panel discussions — all aimed at creating informal learning experiences. The result, as envisioned by the hosts, will transform Panjim into a learning playground that explores investigations of space.
Among the works is a “live experience” titled Evolution of the Stars presented by Instytut B61 & Jan Swierkowski, exploring the humanisation of cosmic space in 13 audio-visual installations that describe the evolution of matter from clouds of cold gas and dust to the supernovae blast and the presence of metals in human blood.
The narratives, as told via audio-visual projections around the city, speak of the presence of humans in cosmic space. A note from the artists offers that the cosmos is built of stars and galaxies rather than planets or countries. “Thus, humans also, are made of the stuff of stars,” says the note.
Over at Fundacao Oriente gallery, Akash Sharma and Snehal Thomas capture an alternate history of Goan heritage, with an audio-mapping process that re-creates the distinct acoustic environments of Goa’s architectural landmarks.
A large part of the attention will be on the workshops, such as a session on ‘Migratory Cultures’ led by G Craig Hobbs and Robin Lasser, involving video and motion graphics to compile stories of migration. The participants get to make large-scale video projections mapped onto buildings and trees in Panjim. At Sadhana dell Arte, Tessa Bide will lead ‘A Strange New Space’, a project with local children, bringing in puppets, games and ‘Imagination play’ sessions to research the kids’ understanding of refugees.
At 91springboard, ‘Blank Space’, led by the performing artists Pushpanjali Sharma and Gautam Nima, will create the experience of an ‘embodied blank space’. Their attempt is to declutter and un-condition preset ways of being, seeing, perceiving and doing things.
For the time being
The interactive element is prominent in the installations too. At the Adil Shah Palace, French photographer Ana Bloom present Breath, in which portraits (with faces blurred) are seen with their heads submerged, struggling to surface.
“The subjects look like paintings,” says a note about the work. “In the cracks between surface and depth, the breath, peculiar to each human being, acts as a photographic filter. The bubbles modify the image of each individual according to their singular and peculiar adaptation under water.”
Nadine Baldow, on the other hand, presents Human Occupier, a series of installations of colourful biomorphic structures, at a venue near the Army Canteen, Campal. With an eye for producing works that are highly artificial in nature, Nadine gets viewers to consider the divergent relationship between men and nature.
Among other projects at the festival, architect Manuel Scotichini and theoretical particle physicist Giuseppe Bozzi from Italy collaborate with the Sanskrit scholar S Bhuvaneshwari to depict theories from ancient theology to contemporary science. While photographer Johnny Miller from South Africa extends his Unequal Scenes aerial documentary series on inequality, using drone photography to capture stark juxtapositions between poverty and affluence in Goa.
Elsewhere, astrophysicist Megan Argo and artist Nick Sayers map out a 4.5 km cycle ride along the River Mandovi to lay out a scaled version of the solar system. With this, the duo hope to get visitors to understand their “neighbourhood in space”, and also open up discussions on “the politics and philosophy of space travel”. Now that’s a phenomenon that can’t be too far ahead in time.
The Story of Space is on from November 10-19 in Goa. Visit thestoryof.org