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observatory_night celestrial sphere.jpg

Art as a Series of Moments



Each fifth space experience is built around a few key ‘moments’ in which the experience of the artwork is heightened. When we spend time with others in a place we love, in nature, or with a great work of art there is meaning created all the time. But meaning is especially created in crucial moments of great clarity that open something up within the person experiencing the art. These ‘moments’ are where I focus with my art.

In the case of the solar/stellar observatory discussed in my previous post, the principal moments all involve light:

Holding your hand above the model of the celestial sphere, seeing a constellation projected onto your palm, and slowly drawing that palm away from the model until you can see that same constellation in the sky above.

Rotating the model of the celestial sphere to the current date and time, noticing how it mirrors the sky above, continuing to slowly rotate it through the night to mirror the real celestial sphere.

Looking through the gnomon to see the north star and realizing that you are looking through a tube that parallels the earth’s rotational axis. The stars that you’ve been following around the sky are rotating around this axis.

Noticing crystal markers aligned to the current date illuminate as the sun peeks over the horizon rail at sunrise and sunset.

Lining up the rays of the sun under the observatory so that a frosted crystal suddenly lights up brilliantly in the shadows.

The entire experience is conceived as a series of illuminating moments.

While I’ve imagined this work in a high desert setting, the essence of this inhabitable sculpture could work in other settings anywhere in the world where there is a clear view of the sky.

By Joseph O'Connell

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