Starstruck was a community engagement project in the mountains of Campania, Italy. It encouraged people to play music together on a set of chimes I built from found objects. If you want to play it, go to Castelvenere and ask for the keys to the round tower. ;) I had invaluable assistance in building the instrument from Gino Conte and I found most of the materials in his shed, so I named the instrument "Gino's Shed."
The project and artist residency were supported by Terra Vivente Art Studio, Ru.De.Ri., the town of Castelvenere, the village of Pietraroja, and the efforts of Helena Wadsley and Gino Conte.
Visiting Herculaneum (a community that suffered the same fate as Pompeii) near the village where the Terra Vivente residency took place I couldn't help rebuilding in my mind the lives of the people who once lived there. Something about the act of reconstructing and witnessing seems to impart meaning to the lives, culture, imaginings, strivings, accomplishments, anguish, and ecstasy of ancient civilisations.
Will future beings look back at our artifacts, similarly carrying on the meaning of our lives? Will they ask themselves, "Who were they? What mattered to them?" Chances are there will be nobody left on Earth to witness the remnants of our present-day civilisation. So who will our witnesses be? Aliens watching from afar? What do we look like from out there beyond the stars?
The spacecraft, Voyager I, took a photo of Earth from the edge of the solar system before drifting off forever to roam the universe. Our beloved planet is barely visible. The late visionary, Carl Sagan, described it as "a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark" and "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam." So, even if anyone could see us, chances are they wouldn't care.
How does it feel to contemplate our insignificance? What does this mean for us right now? What does it do to our sense of purpose? And with this knowledge, how do we choose to live our lives? When it comes time to cash in our chips, most of us profess that the most meaningful things in our lives have been our relationships.
With this project, I propose that we have a good look at humanity in the mirror and be our own witnesses. I believe we have a chance of transcending the fall of our own civilisation - by facing our fears and embracing one another more fully. Playing music with other people has been shown to be a powerfully bonding experience. Play music. Even if all you can do is clap your hands or stamp your feet, play music.