WHAT MATTERS consisted of two immersive installations at St Oswold’s Church and Churchyard, part of Lumiere Durham 2017, commissioned by Artichoke.
Inside the church thousands of hand blown glass fragments were suspended from specific locations, arranged according to stages of cosmic evolution from the very early stages of the universe just after the Big Bang and before the formation of denser particles that preceded the ‘scattering of light’. The glass colours and locations were coordinated according to a spectrum of spherical sections derived from the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR, 'relic radiation'). White light was ‘painted’ through each coloured fragment which, allowed to turn naturally on their axis, filled the church with ever-changing spectral optics. As more visitors filled the church, so the piece became more alive with kinetic movement caused by the bodily movement, heat and breath.
In the churchyard fragments from 'The Scattering' appeared to have pulled together to form complex matter, depicted by glass ‘bubbles’ arranged in clusters and held in place by a ‘web’ - a tensile surface of sculpted lightweight netting suspended between 5 large trees. The web appeared as a trace of an invisible surface, suspending the glass and light in space and creating cloud-like swirling auras, reminiscent of cosmic structures.
Developed with assistance from the Institute of Computational Cosmology, the installation reflected on contemporary cosmology and simulation technologies, 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?”.