A Social Sculpture Culminating in a future tradition
It’s a little known fact that the North Star that was overhead when the pyramids were built is not the same star as our North Star now (Polaris). And in about a thousand years, a completely different star will be our North Star. Because of a slight wobble in the Earth’s rotation, the pole star position is not fixed. Our “guiding light” changes. We’re curious how a transition on the celestial scale would be marked and celebrated here on Earth.
JUMP!STAR is that celebration. It’s an initiative to work with communities to invent the traditions – a thousand years in advance – to be passed down to commemorate the eventual changing of the North Star. Plans for this intergalactic event are underway and Kansas has been chosen to be the home for the premiere of Jump!Star in the summer of 2019. The rural nature of the Flint Hills region nurtures a community of trust. The urban nature of Wichita creates cultural vibrancy. The combined strengths of these forces, in conjunction with satellites in New York, Los Angeles and Berlin, constructs a model of cooperation and collaboration that is the generative foundation of this project.
Thanks to the support of 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’ll be researching, rehearsing, brainstorming and prototyping until June, 2019. We’ll be 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 Kansas hosts will be presenting opportunities to work with 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 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 we get our lattes be having real-time conversations with our friends on the other side of the planet. We are increasingly a global culture; we should inaugurate a 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 not only have existed, but 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 future generations.
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 a civilization in 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.