Constellations are a kind of necessary pareidolia, concentrating infinity into a human-scale narrative. The Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese and Arabs all sought to make sense of the world by projecting their cultures onto the heavens and their narratives still permeate our culture.
Our recently born near-constellation of robots – Hubble, Spitzer, Fermi and Kepler – have furnished us with a hi-def and precise understanding of the cosmos. But the retreat of the night sky, driven by our 24-7 artificially-lit civilisation, has robbed us of the imagination to create a contemporary astral mythology and project our newly globalised culture onto the heavens.
Two years ago, Oscar Lhermitte's Urban Stargazing project, sought to create artificial constellations above urban London, observable only at night. Lhermitte's twelve new constellations were in reality lights strung from high cables, but at a glance provided Londoners with new mythologies – The Guitar, The Irish Giant and The V2.
Lhermitte's project requires significant construction and obstruction and is as much about zoning laws and planning permission as the creation of playful mythology. Perhaps the urban constellation is poised to become more commonplace…