SPEED OF LIGHT






SPEED OF LIGHT is a travelling scale model of the solar system where you can walk from the earth to the sun at the speed of light.

The light from the sun takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach the earth. Built at a sale 1:270.000.000 you can take the same time walking from the earth to the sun at 4 KM/h (walking speed) following a 555m LED path.


SPEED OF LIGHT was first realized in 2016 during the Amsterdam Light festival. It is an immersive sculpture, but also funtions as a scenography for performance arts, music and parades. Every day people could make the 555m walk with headphones following a mythological or scientific story about the sun, mercury venus, the earth and the moon, and get familiar with our cosmic neighbourhood.




The project was first imagined to be exhibited at the Oerol theater festival in Terschelling, an island in the north of the Netherlands. The vastness of the surroundings and the lack of lighpolution seemed like the perfect conditions to host this installation.  

Since its a theater festival SOL would funtion perfectly as a scenography where different interventions can take place. From a simple individual experience with an audioguide to dance performances. Photos below are collages implementing SOL in the landscape of the island.






A series of illustrations was made for a crowdfunding campaign made for financing the first edition in Amsterdam. Involving the city and local community was a great experience and added value to the project. We also visited 5 schools in the surrounding neighbourhood where we organized workshops about the solar system. 
After a 15 min. explaination we would make lanterns together. The kids were all invited to join a big parade organized during the winter solstice on december 21st where they could themselves make the journey with their own lanterns. 




The Parade was made in collaboration with Pretvormer, costume was made by Sandra Kaas. SOL was done in coproduction with TOLHUISTUIN and The Amsterdam Lightfestival. Production by Chasing the Hihat.
The Audiotour was made with music by Stijn Hosman and voices of Judith Noyons and Thomas Dudkiewicz. Introductory movie by Bobbie Roelofs. 
Major funding was done by VSB Fonds, UvA, ALF, 154 Kickstarter Backers, Stichting Stokroos and Rabobank. 





SPEED OF LIGHT FOR THE GARDENS OF VERSAILLES





Versailles is the palace of th Sun King. By coincidence the distance between the two central fountains is exactly 555 meters. The sculpture of the sun would fit above the sculpture of Apollo, the greek Sun god, and the sculpture of the earth would fit in the hand of Latonne, who at the other end of the great perspective is asking Zeus for help being chasted after by giant frogs and lizards. The moon would be circling around her, next to a sculpture of Artemis, the godess of the moon.

Versailles is well known for hosting large scale installations in the summer by well known artists like Jeff Koons (2009)  and Giuseppe Penone (2013). A little less known are the many theater productions hosted in the gardens throughout the year. Speed of Light could be a new kind of winter program, when the sun sets early. The garden would become a “space walk” where different artists would be invited to come inhabit this large empty space with the help of music, story and theater. 






Versailles is built at the beginning fo our scientific era. In the beginning of the 17th century the first attempts were made to calculate the speed of light. We find ourselves in a pivital point in history of our civilisation: From a traditional society rooted in mythology and religion to the modern scientific society of today. Maybe they do not need to contradic each other and maybe we can learn to appreciate the best of both worlds.
Another nice coincidence makes Versailles ideal host for SOL: The first calculations about the Speed of Light were done by the engineer of the two fountains of Apollo and Artemis: Ole Roemer, was a Danish astronomer working in Paris for the Sun King. His calculations weren’t accurate enough to possibly have influenced the making of the garden but the coincidence still is full of poetic and historical meaning. 





On these slides is visible how the scale of the projects overlaps perfectly with the great perspective of Versailles.