celebrate the changing of our north star
It’s a little-known fact that the North Star that was overhead when the pyramids were built is not the same as our North Star now (Polaris). A slight wobble in Earth’s rotation (Axial Precession) causes the stars above our Polar Axis to shift slowly over time. Our “guiding light” changes. We’re curious how a transition on this celestial scale will be ritualized and celebrated here on Earth.
JUMP!STAR is an initiative centered around the significance of that change. Jump!Star unites artists, musicians and scientists with communities around the world to invent cultural customs (dances, songs, snacks!) now that can be passed down and celebrated when our current North Star rotates out of position and our next pole star moves into place. The Jump!Star team has been working with communities around the US to develop the first iteration of this celestial celebration, to premiere in Kansas on June 15, 2019.
At its core, Jump!Star is about recalibrating our relationship with time by asking us to think on a much longer timescale than humans usually do. It gives us the opportunity to imagine how we hope life will be in a thousand years, and then reverse-engineer those hopes into the kinds of decisions we need to make now for that future to become a reality. The combined strength of our collaborating communities around the country, in conjunction with our team members in New York, Los Angeles and Berlin, constructs a model of cooperation that is the generative foundation of this project.
Thanks to support from the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Grant Program, Symphony in the Flint Hills in collaboration with Harvester Arts and Chamber Music at The Barn is presenting Jump!Star as a social sculpture conceived and directed by American artist George Ferrandi. We’ve been developing facets of the celebration with neighbors, community members, artists, teachers and renowned scientists like astrophysicist Jana Grcevich of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and climatologist Sonali McDermid of New York University. Composer Jherek Bischoff is writing a symphony under Jump!Star's themes. Our organizational partners have been presenting opportunities for Kansas communities to work with our international artists to choreograph the dances (Alan Calpe), establish the rhythms (Jee Young Sim), and sing the anthems (Mirah) of the shifting star. George Ferrandi is making large-scale, illuminated paper sculptures with universities around the country, using Japanese "Nebuta" techniques to celebrate each of the eventual pole stars.
So many reasons!
1. Contemporary technology makes it possible for us to sit in a coffee shop, plug in to nothing at all, and before getting our lattes have real-time conversations with our friends on the other side of the planet. We are increasingly a global culture; we should inaugurate a secular global holiday!
2. From the perspective of a country as young as the United States, 1000 years seems abstract—almost fictional—but there are many countries in the world that have been celebrating festivals and traditions for more than a millennium. These long-running traditions become defining facets of a culture, connecting them to both their ancestors and their descendants.
3. Planning the festivities for an event 1000 years into the future requires thinking less in terms of the human lifespan and more in terms of the planetary and celestial. This kind of mental shift will only benefit the planet at large, as anthropogenic climate change can be attributable to our disregard for long-term impacts of our actions. This necessitates a rethinking of our temporal paradigms.
4. If popular culture is any indication, it's become easier for us to imagine a horrific apocalypse than it is to look into the distant future with optimism. The proliferation of armageddon movies can be seen as zombie-riffic evidence of this. JUMP!STAR asks us to look forward with hope and imagine the resilient civilization of the distant future.
5. The rampant success of social media can be regarded, among other things, as a craving for structured interaction. Working with friends new and old on a social project like JUMP!STAR enables meaningful interaction, within a structure that empowers us to create something larger than our individual selves.