A scale model of the solar system through which you walk at the speed of light
About this project
The Speed Of Light project (SOL)
A project by Caspar Noyons and the Tolhuistuin for the Amsterdam Lightfestival
December 21st 2016 till January 21st 2017
The Speed Of Light project is a scale model of the solar system (1:270.000.000) where the visitor can walk the distance between the earth and the sun at relative light-speed.
We are removed 150.000.000 km from our sun and light travels at 300.000 km/s. This means the light of the sun takes exactly 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach us. These simple facts are known already for centuries but how well do we understand them? And even more importantly: How much is this modern cosmology part of our popular culture? It seems in every mythology this cosmology, or the place humans inhabit in the universe, is of tremendous importance. A place where separate individuals can gather, meet and celebrate this great cosmos we are all a part of.
Location and LED path: All we really need for this installation is a long line of 555m in order for the visitor to be able to follow a LED path (3 LED per meter, 1665 LED’s in total) showing the exact speed of 4km/h which is slow walking pace. This journey will then take the amount of time required: 8.3 minutes. A perfect place for this is the IJpromenade in the North of Amsterdam. Next to the IJ Canal it offers a great open space next to the water along a long straight line of just the right size.
Host: Another thing we need is a festival this project is a part of so people come and experience this light installation and we can gather sponsors and partners to make this project happen. What about the Amsterdam Lightfestival ? Now we can really start making it happen.
Building the solar system
How do we build the earth and the moon? They will only be respectively 4,7cm and 1.4 cm in diameter. They will light up on the side facing the sun so visitors can see them well. Also the big circle functioning as a fence surrounding the earth shows the path of the moon around the earth. (the moon is placed on top of this steel structure).
Imagine the moon takes a whole month to complete one full circle. This is just 90 degrees per week and its traveling as fast as the fastest airplanes on earth…
And of course the sun ! This part is more complicated. The sun proportionately is about
100 times bigger than the earth. Not 4,7 cm but 5.16 meters in diameter… Standing next to earth it will look exactly as big in the skyline as the sun really looks to us from earth in the sky. The IJpromenade will look for 4 weeks like a star wars movie with two suns..
For it to really stand out we will put it on a 7 meter metal pillar so it is standing 2 meters high in the air. People will be able to sit and walk around it and make pictures so it looks they are lifting the sun up with their arms.
And finally we need a space gate so the visitor can really make the transformation from common mortal to giant light being walking at light-speed and holding the earth in the palm of his hand.
We have been busy the past year finding other sponsors and partners that are now making the project possible: Stadsdeel Noord (City of Amsterdam) Shell, who have their research center near the project and many other foundations public and private have made generous contributions to making this project a reality.
Being so much centered around the visitor, and receiving such encouraging reactions from people around us we chose to make a crowd-funding for the Sun. It will develop a community around the project and the guided tours offered as rewards including costumes music and stories will really make the project come alive. Also we saw a lot of potential for education, so an educational program is being developed by students of the UPVA as part of a 2 week internship to invite 10 classes in 5 schools in the surrounding area to come and learn about space and the power of science.
For the production we chose 3 specialized companies, one in inflatable advertising (for the SUN) one in LED Lighting for the LED path and one in stage design for the earth, the moon and the space gate. The technical team of Lightfestval will keep an eye on the feasibility of the project and the Tolhuistuin Foundation is managing the budget together with the artist. Working together we have a competent team of experiences people that can live up to the task of executing this exciting but also challenging project.
Performances and Education
During the 4 weeks the project is on display 4 interventions will be organised with performers, costumes and music. The grand Opening will be done with Stichting Pretvormer, on the 21st of December, the winter solstice. We will be visiting 5 schools in the neighborhood and teach children about the solar system the stars and the planets. On the day of the opening Pretvormer wil bring their amazing light sculptures and together we will make the journey towards the Sun, accompanied with music and song.
Guided tours: 25, 50 Eur. and up. As a tourguide in the most beautiful museums of amsterdam Caspar Noyons will be welcoming you in his cosmic costume guiding you like virgil through your epic journey towards the sun. Filled with stories about mythologies, creation myths and facts of science and space you will be able to become a full inhabitant of this solar system. To use Carl Sagan’s words: We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. The exploration of the cosmos is a voyage of self discovery. We are made of stardust.
If you can’t make it to the guided tour: Tell us if you are not able to come to amsterdam this winter and we will send you a postcard instead ! Signed by the artist plus a print of a A4 drawing.
Video:100 Eur. and up. As you might have noticed we have major video skills at our disposition (thanks to Oculus film) to create an incredible after-movie of the whole process and especially the performances of music dance and costumes around the different stages.
Drawings: Apart from people other invitations have been sent: Spirit gods of mythologies from all over the world are joining the celebration. In the drawings are some of the visitors you can expect.
- 250 Eur. : 21×29,7 cm (A4, 90 gr paper) Drawings signed by the artist. Limited to 20
- 500 Eur. : 25×35 cm (200 gr glossy paper) Drawings or 2 x A4. Limited to 15.
- 1000 Eur. : 35×50 cm (glossy paper) Drawings. Limited to 5.
In total 12 A4 drawings have been made. If needed, more could be made with a limit of 20 total.
2 more drawings are made on another format: 25×35 and thicker glossier paper. Backers of 500 and up can choose between one of those or 2 smaller A4 drawings. Limit: 15
The largest drawings: 35 x 50 cm, limited to 5. (3 already made) Here is one:
Risks and challenges
In this vast space is mostly emptiness but still a few essential parts need to be built. And built well so they can be user proof and stay in good shape for the whole 4 weeks of the project under potentially bad weather. Since every entity is produced by specialists and custom made for the project we will be able to design each part accordingly. Also the SUN will be inflated every day at nightfall and deflated at 11pm and put down to avoid any chance of vandalism.
Other catastrophic events could include sponsors retracting or exploding construction parts so we made a list of top priorities and less important ones. In worst case scenario the space-gate could turn out to be a door in a frame and the stages around sun and earth could be a carpet. Maybe the LED’s will shine less bright but the SUN the MOON and the EARTH will be there lighting up Amsterdam’s skyline no-matter what !! And the artist will be there to welcome you in his Space Costume.