WHAT MATTERS consisted of two immersive installations at St Oswold’s Church and Churchyard. The church of St Oswald’s, a medieval church with iconic stained glass windows (William Morris), provided the setting for the installation to reflect on contemporary cosmology, evoking thought about how matter evolved, how we model or simulate knowledge and what it means to be conscious. By mapping the birth of light in the universe, the work looks at the meaning of computational simulation, projecting light through the glass in order to introduce the aspect of consciousness into the model and inviting the question: “What Matters?”.
The concept aimed to create an immersive environment for audiences to reflect on the big questions of life, light and the universe. Inside the church ‘What Matters (The Scattering)’ comprised thousands of hand blown glass fragments that were suspended from the roof and allowed to turn naturally on their axis. White light was ‘painted’ through each coloured fragment, filling the church with ever-changing spectral optics. Arranged according to stages of cosmic evolution from the very early stages of the universe just after the Big Bang, the glass was coordinated according to a spectrum of colours embedded in spherical sections derived from the image of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. Moving out into the churchyard the fragments appeared to have pulled together to form complex matter, depicted by glass ‘bubbles’ arranged in clusters of cloud-like swirling auras reminiscent of cosmic structures, held in place by a ‘web’ - a tensile surface of sculpted lightweight netting suspended between 5 large trees.
Inside the church, the work had a natural kinetic element with each piece of glass suspended from a single point and therefore able to rotate on its axis, so that as the church filled with more visitors (increasing air circulation, rising heat, breathing) the piece became more motive. In the churchyard, parametric modelling enabled the artists and engineers to jointly explore the attainable forms. Overall the artwork occupies the interface between science, technology and art, being a precise manifestation of the coming together of these disciplines around the common medium: the substance of light.
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Art matters. Attention to the details of our environment leads to love of place, which brings us to take responsibility for the spaces where we live and work. And by extension, the people with whom we live and work. And by extension, to our local communities, our cities, our nations, and our world.
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