Recently I have been taken by the fluidity of meaning and truth, and more specifically in regards to scientific and spiritual contexts in a rapidly mechanized world. My past few projects have explored different aspects of this, the “Electric Monk” mechanizing the process of prayer and its second iteration adding in concepts of importance of personal experience vs recorded history. Keeping in the similar vein of science and spirituality, I am interested in exploring re-allocation of meaning and importance in my next piece.
As of now, my piece will take the form of a coin-operated, electric votive candle stand. A telescope will be attached to the back and, if all goes to plan, will be charging a central battery via starlight. When the viewer donates a quarter, an empty votive candle will be ‘lit’ using ‘star’ energy stored in the central battery. Further, I may incorporate a small LCD in front of each candle to display a unique mantra/prayer given to the donator for the duration of each candle ‘life’. Conversely, such as coin-operated fortune tellers, the machine could print out the unique prayer for the donator to take with them.
With this setup, the ‘re-allocation of meaning and importance’ can be found on a few different levels. One is within the viewer interaction of trading an object of pre-defined worth (a quarter) for a personal experience. This is strengthened by the gathering of the ‘star’ energy and transferring it to power an electronic votive candle light; the use of a scientific instrument such as a telescope to power a prayer generates an interesting question of immanence and meaning. What is more important in this system? Where the energy that lights the candle comes from? Or the metaphysical prayer that it represents? Also, how is it that importance and meaning can be so easily traded between the physical and metaphysical? Finally, the piece acts as a loose metaphor for our beginnings in the stars and the re-allocation of atoms from dead stars as the building blocks of human life…