Cosmic Canopy

Creators: Claire Baum, Carolyn Kan, Kaliroë Pappas, Andrew Parpart

Medium: Multimedia installation

Like Robert Frost in his poem “Choose Something Like a Star,” the viewer is invited to share in the unsettling shift in perspective that can occur when looking at the universe at the largest scales. Stepping across the threshold of the Cosmic Canopy evokes the rippling of spacetime, as per Einstein’s theory of general relativity, during the slow and elegant dance of colliding galaxies. Isolated from external lights and sounds, time within the space seems to slow to a glacial pace, the visuals and music from the hoverogram cementing the feeling of gravity and purpose that comes from a glimpse of the universe. In comparison with the hectic pace of life at the human scale, or the frantic movements of subatomic particles, the cosmos are as steadfast a linchpin we can hope for in a universe of change.

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud—
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says, ‘I burn.’
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

“Choose Something Like a Star” by Robert Frost, from Collected Poems, Prose & Plays