Language of the Stars, architectural rendering, 2018.

Language of the Stars

Language of the Stars interprets the geometry of ancient astronomical artifacts, creating a human-cosmic visual lexicon that contemplates questions of cosmology and the search for meaning. Surrogate paintings and translated objects will be presented to the public in a semi-mobile pyramid shaped observatory at varying celestial observation points.

By Christina Ondrus

Language of the Stars explores an interpretive history of ancient skygazing through human objects and images. The project itself will be a process of inquiry, reflection, and discovery. Intensive research will focus on the large concentration of Western European astronomical artifacts of the Neolithic era, including the Bush Barrow Lozenge (Britain c. 2000 BC), Nebra Sky Disk (Germany c.1600 BC) and archeoastronomy sites at Newgrange (Ireland c. 3200 BC), Gavrinis (France c. 3000 BC), and more. The project will contemplate objects and images that possess knowledge that is accessible and arcane, celestial and terrestrial. It will consider how celestial patterning and geometric motifs create a visual lexicon of human fascination with the night sky across cultures and time. The specific knowledge and problematics of each artifact will inform its reinterpretation into shaped canvases, small-scale sculptures, drawings, and text.

These reimagined works will be presented inside and around a semi-mobile pyramid-shaped outdoor observation station based on a tetrahedron model used by Alexander Graham Bell. The surface of the wood structure will be charred to a deep black, becoming an emphatic “carbon-based” space. Inside, small-scale paintings, objects, writing, and drawings will be presented for interaction as a sort of library of mysterious cosmic ephemera. The space will offer a poetic contemplation of forms that have permeated time and human perception of the night sky and the unknown. The installation may be presented at different locations with celestial viewing points, including Mount Wilson Observatory, Griffith Observatory, or Palomar Observatory.