CELESTIAL SHIFT | NH ARCHITECTURE

Our proposal takes the astronomical technique of Cosmological Redshift and applies it to the Canberra night sky. Redshift is used to measure the rotation and travelling speed of stars as well as the expansion of the universe. We capture this momentarily in our proposal by superimposing the night sky above the National Gallery in 2016 (as blue tones) over the sky on its opening date in 1982 (as red tones).

It draws on the human desire to understand the universe by applying a grid to the natural world; an aspiration inspired by Col Madigan’s triangle and trihex system. The ordering device that has its origins in the natural, mathematical and historical world extends in every direction infinitely and harmoniously through the National Gallery of Art.

As a time-honoured tradition, which progresses very slowly, tapestry has strong parallels to the movement of stars; over billions of years and thousands of stitches, both stars and tapestry create beautiful, mesmerising results. The material qualities of tapestry are celebrated by utilising different threads – luminous blue cotton contrasts with light-absorbent red wool. The warp is left bare and visible where the stars exist, creating gaps in the tapestry to cast pinpoint light on the wall behind.

In a space with minimal visual connection to the outside world, our proposal links viewers to Canberra’s location both geographically on earth and to the universe. The minuscule light paths are scaled down interpretations of the larger light paths created in the architecture, and as the viewer moves past, the tapestry alludes to a lunar eclipse passing between the wall and balustrade.

It reminds us that our existence is at once infinitely expanding and finitely small; time is both momentary and endless.