What Matters

Submitted by Edward Shuster



Location: Durham, United Kingdom

Completion date: 2017

Project Team


Shuster + Moseley

Industry Resource

Institute for Computational Cosmology


Artichoke Trust


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.