Compass to the center of our galaxy
a compass pointing to the center of our galaxy

carbon tubes, gear motors, sprocket, 3D printed parts, electronics, raspberry pi

The real time installation "Matter" is a needle, similar to the needle of a compass, pointing towards the center of our galaxy. The needle is hanging from a motorized platform and rotates in two dimensions, according to time and location on earth, always pointing towards Sagittarius A*, the black hole in the center of our galaxy.

As far as investigated, our galaxy is held together by a black hole, one of the most fascinating and obscure phenomena in space. This is maybe hard to imagine, maybe hard to accept. But it is, even though 26.5K lightyears away, very real.

There are many pictures of earth in space, some more or less iconic, but all with similar statements.

Looking towards earth from a spacecraft, for example in the photograph „pale blue dot“ taken by Voyager 1, reveals the beauty, the rarity but also the loneliness of earth. It is a perspective humanity archieved with inventions and immense knowledge. It is a demonstration of human skills.

Carl Sagan: „Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.“

It seems that the inspiration of these profound self-reflections is a question of perspective and change of perspective.

„Matter“ refers to these larger contexts from an earthly point of view and invites the recipient to participate in these overwhelming interrelations and the questions they raise.

How do we think about scales and what scales do we set?

In view of this magnitude, how do we construe our problems, our wishes, aspirations, opinions – our own existence?

How do we deal with the fuzziness of our knowledge and our not-knowing?

How do we think about relevance and relativity?

What matters?

The center of our galaxy can be imagined as an invisible star at the sky. Depending the time, date and location, the position of Sagittarius A* is always different. If you keep watching the needle for about half an hour, you will notice a slight rotation. Because earth rotates once a day, the needle also performs one full rotation a day, which is the most obvious movement noticeable. For example the changing nutation of earth also causes a change, but would only be visible if the installation was shown for over half a year at the same location.

Matter is built from mostly 3D printed parts. Stepper motors control the length of the threads the needle is hanging from, and the rotation of the whole platform. Other important parts are a microcomputer, a realtime clock, motorcontrollers and a power supply unit.