Some Stars Look Back

An interactive light installation.

Published on 3 March 2019


‘Some Stars Look Back’ is an artwork consisting of a 5x5 grid of hanging bulbs that follow the audience as they move through the installation. Using 3D sensors, the bulbs can see where the audience are and they continually adjust their position to pull themselves closer.

The piece wonders what it would be like if stars were as curious about us as we are about them. To see them, we crane our necks, buy telescopes, go out in cold winter nights and lie on our backs in wet grass. But we are pretty interesting creatures ourselves. What if they also want a closer look?

The artwork allows the audience to explore this world in which stars are also interested in them. They can walk through and look at the ‘stars’ as they look at us. The bulbs hang just above head height at 7ft so we can get a good look at them and they can get a good look back.

The title also works bi-directionally. In one sense, it suggests people looking out to the stars for a sense of wonder and belonging. In particular, it makes reference to the Christian origins of Durham, of the monks from Lindisfarne looking for safety, of generations after looking for guidance. In the other sense, it suggests stars looking at us and our rare position in the universe. Whilst the stars shine light on billions of stars and planets, very few of them are also looking back at them.

Code demonstration

A demonstration of how the installation ‘Some Stars Look Back’ will look like from below. Imagine being underneath a 5x5 grid of hanging bulbs. Looking up you would see the image above. Moving the mouse through the grid allows you to imagine how it will be for a person moving through the installation.