September, 2016

︎ projetc

ORUN (sky in Yoruba) brings up several layers of understanding and dealing with the sky, and is an audiovisual installation that counts on visitor’s participation.

The visitor first get to a series of radios turned on and hanged in a wall. Beside radios, there’s’ a map available with instructions: she or he must get a map and follow the steps. The first one is to get a radio and go to the little square in front of the gallery. From there, she/he can see the city of Rio de Janeiro from above, specifically a polemic landscape view of a recently re-urbanized (and gentrified) area for the Olympic games, while she/he hears to the story Tia Lucia tells about the sky, recorded by free-radio professional Brunz.

Than, visitor shall walk for one block through a very old neighborhood in Rio. Small nice houses glued to each other. Morro da Conceição was the first spot for sky observing in Brazil, and the first route for slaves too (it is very near the sea, which, at that moment of the night is dark).

Following the map gets visitor to Valongo Observatory. The visitor faces a video projected outside, in the garden, which shows Mãe Edelzuita and the same Tia Lucia (as image here shows) telling their story of the sky. This time Tia Lucia talks in what is left of the ancient Yoruba, her African ancestral language. Mãe Edelzuita mostly sings.
After the video, visitor must walk some meters to reach observation spot. Daniel Mello, astronomer, shows, through 60’s big telescope, the sky at that night, and explain the sky maps from that specific night, and talks. Saturn seems a child sticker in this telescope, but it is really there.

Before leaving the place, the visitor is able to take home a text written in collaboration with astronomy historian Heloisa Meireles about the dark sky, navigation, and the city.

Collaborative text. Heloisa Meireles Gesteira and Paula Scamparini

It is no longer possible, due to the light pollution of the atmosphere, to contemplate with the naked eye the richness of the nocturnal sky of this city, as well as of many others Places of Earth. This has mobilized astronomers and other practitioners to talk about the importance of viewing the night sky as a patrimony of humanity, especially in places still relatively protected from city lights. This is not the case in Rio de Janeiro. Our heaven is no patrimony. It can be said, however, that it is a product of humanity. But what keeps the dark sky? There is in heaven, between existing cultures on Earth and those that already existed, an element of connection: the ability to transform the signs of the sky - stars, comets, planets, among a multiplicity of phenomena, including darkness - in texts, interpreting And creating images and their explanations. Of these explanations, some are considered mythological, others scientific. What seduces in astronomy is the human ability to deal with a knowledge that is known, starting, will never be fully achieved. Above all, and more decisively distant, is this possibility throughout a human life. The astronomical dimensions scale our bodies and our existences to microscopic fragments before the universe, they reposition us before our pretensions, but not before our dreams. We cultivate the relationship with the sky, from the sky that acquires at a certain time romantic content, to heaven forever, that of the natural phenomena that terrify people. If science is dedicated to understanding the workings of nature, since it affects us, besides not depending on us, much of this immeasurable thing that we name nature is manifested by or in relation to heaven. From temperatures to storms and tides. And so heaven also becomes earth. After all, stars are only placed under a star, just like those we observe at dusk, if the clarity of our cities allows us. And the clouds. The readings of the sky vary according to the cultures, whether in time or space. We highlight here, due to the determining history of the region of Valongo, where we are now located, that enabled men to transform the Atlantic Ocean into routes, where, from the fifteenth century, they sailed vessels in various directions. To know the sky, to observe the stars, to measure the height of the stars by means of mathematical instruments, like the astrolabe, allowed the Portuguese to land in the lands that today form Brazil. Observing the sky, consulting tables and charts, it was possible to locate anywhere on earth. During the voyages across the oceans, to know the sky, that is, to identify the stars, was important, especially when a boat was in the middle of the sea, with no fixed point to aid in the orientation, except the sky hanging over the heads of sailors And crew. By day, the sun guides. At night, some brighter stars take the place of the sun. If the clouds get in the way, however, the boat remains drifting. There are clouds tonight. Will we know where we stand before the universe? Do our tools work? Through what tools do we observe heaven today? Among the first records on the lands touched by Cabral's squadron, there is a sketch made by Mestre João Faras do Cruzeiro do Sul: a constellation "guide" of the European navigators that surpassed the line of the equator, sailing through the southern hemisphere. An excerpt from the letter sent to King Manuel I, King of Portugal, on May 1, 1500, from Vera Cruz, says: "I only tell Your Highness how the stars of the (south) are situated, but to what degree is each one I could not know, but it seems to me impossible to be in the air no star, because I worked hard on it And no matter how much the ship swings, they miss four or five degrees, so that one can not do anything but on land. ... And almost as much I say of the tablets of India, which they can not take with them but with a great deal of labor, which, if Your Highness knew how disconcerting all in inches, would laugh at this rather than the astrolabe; Because from Lisbon to the Canaries they were disconcerting each other in many inches, which some said, more than others, three and four inches, and the other from the Canaries to the islands of Cape Verde, and all this, Same time; So that more they judged how many inches they were, by the amount of the way that seemed to them to have walked, than the path by the inches. Turning, Lord, to purpose, these Guards never hide, but always walk about on the horizon, and I am still in doubt that I do not know which of the two lower ones is the Antarctic pole; And these stars, especially those of the Cross, are large almost like those of the Car; And the star of the Antarctic pole, or South, is small as the one of North and very clear, and the star that is The whole Cross is very small. I do not want to extend it further, so as not to pester Your Highness, except that I beg of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that the life and state of Your Highness may increase as Your Highness wishes. Made in Vera Cruz on the first of May, 1500. For the sea, it is better to go by the height of the sun, than by no star; And better with astrolabe than with quadrant and with no other instrument. From the servant of Your Highness and your loyal servant "(Portugal, Torre do Tombo National Archive, Chronological Body, Part III, 2, no 2) On the side of today, the drawing of Aunt Lucia relies on history Of the monster Adamastor, who, in the form of stone, was shipwrecked Portuguese ships, and who would have saved many Africans from slavery by abandoning on islands not yet discovered in the middle of the ocean their crew from the basement.From Africa to the Indies, relying on luck, formerly Shipwrecks could have saved destinations.Today, in front of the clear sky of Rio de Janeiro, we put ourselves at risk.We do not know where we came from and where we walked.Our guides can collapse at any moment.We will not know how to read stars. And, even if we know it, they will not necessarily be visible. We sing the tradition, raise the voices to the sky.