INTERSECTIONS

Intersections is a satellite tour of ancient observatories and the celestial bodies they studied.

Intersections


Intersections is an audio visual presentation that advances through a survey of ancient observatories based on real-time coordinates from the International Space Station.

The motivation to create Intersections was two-fold. Firstly, from a technical perspective I am interested in seeing how computer presentations might be controlled by things other than human input. In the case of Intersections the presentation evolves based on Space Station coordinates. Secondly, from an artistic and aesthetic standpoint I am fascinated by the universe and space exploration and have an interest in astronomy as it has evolved since ancient man. The combination of technology and ancient observation was of great interest to me.

In studying space or observing the sky one feels some sort of spiritual bounty. The study of space might also be linked to man's quest for immortality, one thing I would challenge the viewer to consider. The sun, moon and stars appear night after night, and have since man focused on them. Even as stars explode they transform into brilliant gaseous nebulae. The energy of the star appears to live in some transformed way. Manís connection to the heavens is therefore spiritual, a search for immortality, and a desire to form a cosmic connection with the universe and all things surrounding us.

Ancient man could create rich folklore about the heavens because their heavenly perspective was limited by what they could see from the earth. The ďunknownsĒ about the universe allowed them a great deal of creative freedom in which to define a universe that would suit their needs. In doing so, their relationship to the heavens became a spiritual and rich relationship. Their earthly monuments attempted to point to the heavens. Monuments became spiritual observatories to study the heavens. Ancient man sometimes replicated heavens on earth by positioning buildings in alignment with stars. Ancient man looked up and used celestial markers to define location, time, architecture and myth. Calendars evolved out of this study. Observatories were devised to help chart calendar progress which helped ancient man plant, harvest and celebrate. Many observances were held at the time of the summer solstice and winter equinox.

With scientific advances modern man has made discoveries that have furthered ancient astronomy. Telescopes peer into space, space telescopes allow man to see further into the universe than ever before and space probes physically journey to far ends of the milky way. Modern manís knowledge has evolved from ancient manís astronomical observances. The calendar we know today and many of the celestial events that we recognize date back to ancient observations. But our view of space is far less spiritual than that of ancient man. Perhaps we do not need mythology to explain certain things that happen. But mythology provided a kind of certainty that modern man lacks. We have science but many of us are still in deep pursuit of spiritual truths. Modern man has begun to use space and sky as a place to put satellites in orbit to perform numerous earthbound tasks like communication, weather analysis, image processing, and earth analysis. Man has this amazing ability to travel to space and uses it to look back on ourselves. Modern manís relationship with space has become less exploratory, less fueled by imagination and pure scientific research and replaced with modern technology, intelligence gathering, and having a portal back to our existence on earth. Hubble telescope and space probes such as Galileo and Magellan have created some of the most amazing images of the outer reaches of space. Could these images and this knowledge be used to bring modern man closer to a spiritual connection to the universe? Could religions become less religious and use science to explain why at some sub-molecular level energy never dies? Would this aid humanity in its search for spiritual enlightenment?

The ancient astronomers and their observatories formed a basis for modern manís knowledge. Their honored monuments are still found today in ancient ruins that remind us of our link to an ancient past that is still very much of our present.


History

From ancient times through the modern age man has had a fascination with the heavens. Ancient manís use of astronomy was very advanced. Ancient cultures including Mayan, Egyptian, early Europeans, ancient Chinese, Babylonian, Native American Indians and Polynesians used observatories, monoliths and celestial bodies to:


Ancient observatories also had spiritual significance as ancient man used the celestial bodies and heavens to create myths and folklore and apply spiritual significance to the heavens. Over centuries the belief that space and sky were heaven with the earth as the center has evolved into a greater scientific understanding of the earthís role and position within the solar system and universe. Although earth is a unique planet within our solar system capable of sustaining life we no longer view ourselves at the center of the universe. Technological advancements such as telescopes, modern observatories, satellites and space exploration as well as advancements in mathematics and physics have enhanced our understanding of space and sky.

The sky studied by ancient astronomers was void of the space instruments that now orbit the earth, study the universe, and journey through space on exploratory missions. Ancient man looked outward into space uninterrupted by pollution and would not have seen stars that looked like they were moving, or had the benefit of pictures from space.

Modern man, on the other hand, not only views the stars from earth but also journeys to them. Where ancient man developed folklore and myth based on constellations and heavenly bodies, modern man has a more scientific view of the heavens and seeks to better understand the origins of the universe. However, modern man, like his ancestors, still marvels at a view of the Milky Way uninterrupted by pollution and city lights. Modern man flies to the ends of the earth to witness celestial events such as rare eclipses and views of comets and enjoys meteor showers with great enthusiasm. Although modern man knows much more about the heavens than the ancients, we are alike in our awe of the universe, our desire to explore and understand. Although modern man has the advantage of space telescopes for viewing the universe, ancient man might have had the better screen to view the sky devoid of lights and pollution. We share with ancient man admiration and curiosity about the universe.

One significant difference between ancient and modern manís view of the heavens is that modern man journeys into the heavens with spacecraft and instruments to gain a view of the earth. Modern man uses the sky to collect data from the earth, gather nation to nation intelligence through spy technology, send and receive radio and television signals and to communicate with cellular phones. Modern man also uses satellites in the sky to aid in navigation. Modern manís sky differs from that of his ancestors due to the amount of spacecraft and devices that orbit the earth and fly into the universe, as well as the amount of waves that are bouncing around sending and receiving data. Although these waves are invisible one might wonder what impact they have on modern manís view of the heavens. The fact that these devices and waves are out there fundamentally changes our nature from that of our ancient ancestors. We are connected. They were remote. We are inundated with information. They had campfire stories heard without beepers.