Steel, aluminium, programmable leds, integrated speakers

c. 600 x 600 x 600 cms


Lumiere Festival, Durham, November 2017

Cosmoscope Development 
Aluminium, steel, programmable LED lighting, speakers
Lumiere Festival, Durham, November 2017 – other exhibitions opportunities being looked into

Supported by a large arts award from the Wellcome Trust, Durham Council and significant in-kind support from industry

Curator: Artichoke -

Project summary 
Cosmoscope is an interdisciplinary project led by professor Simeon Nelson researched and produced in collaboration with an expert team of artists and scientists.  It will culminate in a monumental multimedia sculpture incorporating sound and light. Taking its inspiration from growth patterns in nature and historical astronomical instruments, it draws on our ability to look into the invisible - from the infinitesimal to the infinite.  It will use the language of maps to explain our place in the universe.The sculpture is being developed to encode ordered and disordered geometries at very small, human and very large scales sourced from the research into solid-state physics, organic structures, and the large scale structure of the cosmos by the scientific collaborators

Cosmoscope takes the fact of the human scale being at the midpoint of the cosmic scale and tries of apprehend the paradox of the simultaneous unity and diversity of all things and the situated fact of our existence and and our attempt comprehend the whole. There is an existential dimension to this in that the contemplation of this allows us to re-situate ourselves as being embedded in a wider system of meaning beyond the human.

Extending the research in previous projects including Anarchy in the Organism and Plenum, Cosmoscope asks: How is the human body and psyche affected by the cosmos? How has plate tectonics affected the development of life on earth? How is earth and its life affected by our cosmic neighbours? How does the molecular physics of the cytoplasm affect the biology of the cell?

A spectacular light machine taking its inspiration from growth patterns in nature and optical instruments, Cosmoscope will project large-scale light patterns onto landmark buildings. Its animated imagery and sound will be witnessed in loops of patterns in perpetual evolution, inspiring a sense of awe and wonder.

A journey starting in cells, blood vessel networks and tissues to explore different scales and descriptions of reality, Cosmoscope looks at how formation occurs at atomic, cellular, human, terrestrial and cosmological levels to uncover underlying analogies and similarities in the development of cells, organisms, ecosystems, planetary environments and star systems.

Informed by collaboration with leading physicists working at the scales of the very small, the human and the very large, Cosmoscope expands from biomedical science into earth science and astrophysics to offer a compelling narrative of the origin, evolution and nature of life. It looks at how wider phenomena impact biology, ultimately asking how we as humans arose within the cosmos.


Cosmoscope collaborative team:
Dr Simon Walker-Samuel Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, 
UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging
– Lead Scientific collaborator, consulting on the structure of blood vessel networks in tumours

Dr Richard Bower Professor of Cosmology
, Institute for Computational Cosmology, Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics Durham University
– consulting on the large scale structure of the cosmos

Dr Pete Edwards  Director of Science Outreach
, Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, Durham University
– Educational Outreach

Dr Andrew Goodwin Professor of Materials Chemistry at the University of Oxford
– consulting on the structure of matter at the atomic and molecular scales

Monia Brizzi London based Chartered Psychologist
– consulting on the phenomenological aspects and existential implications

Rob Godman Reader in Music at the University of Hertfordshire
– creating music based on the scientific work and the geometry of the sculpture

Dr Nick Rothwell Composer, performer, programmer and sound artist
– coding programmable lighting based on the physics of the very small, the human scale and the large scale structure of the cosmos

Artichoke - is a leading UK based arts and cultural event company that sets out deliberately to create an emotional engagement between audiences and artists. Even with the most complex ideas, Artichoke aims to communicate to the broadest possible audience – provoking a sense of wonder and heightened understanding.

Related Links

Cosmoscope Research Day, 23rd June 2017

 Cosmoscope Outreach Project


Rob Godman musical test pieces which attempt to embody different scales of time as a counterpoint to the different scales and dimensions of space.





Contemporary Art Practices Research Group, University of Hertfordshire