Report on Journey of the Universe Art Project

By Xiaoxi Zhu

About 100 members of the Duke Kunshan community have taken part in the university’s first mass-participation art project – an illuminated, nighttime campus procession along a route in the shape of the Big Dipper constellation.

The project was organized by student researchers in the Planetary Ethics and Artificial Intelligence Lab to coincide with a visit by filmmakers Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim on Oct. 10.

Shortly before a screening of the Yale University scholars’ thought-provoking documentary “Journey of the Universe” at 7 p.m., freshmen, sophomores and other excited participants held smartphone flashlights above their heads and began walking from the Residence Hall, past the Conference Center and the Water Pavilion, to the Innovation Building.

Along the route were seven lighted stations, one for each star in the Big Dipper, which represented key stages in the 13.7-billion-year history of our universe. Cameras were located at each station while a drone hovered above to capture footage of the entire illuminated procession.

“We hope that students can understand the vastness of the universe and its connection to us, enabling us to further reflect on the current environmental crisis and the trajectory of human development,” said Yin-Chu Lu, who co-organized the art installation with classmate Ryan Trombly.

After a month of planning, she said she was pleased this one-shot event had gone so smoothly.

The most special aspect of this mass-participation project was that “no matter which language we speak or where we come from, all of us are brought together in this moment and this place through 14 billion years of cosmic evolution,” Lu added.

Organizers said they plan to use images and footage from the event to make a video of the experience, which they hope to screen one day at Duke Kunshan.

Xiaoxi Zhu is a member of the Class of 2022 from China’s Hubei province.