Sig / Sight – a planetarium studio performance by Marcus Neustetter

Partnership: PIAD, Andrew. W. Mellon Fondation, UFS, Vrystaat Kunstefees   

Participants: Navalsig School & Community, Naval Hill Planetarium, Boyden Observatory

“I want to turn the spaces of scientific pursuit and presentation into a studio of co -production and personal exploration.” Naval Hill stands as a beacon above the Bloemfontein landscape. This hill and planetarium sits at the edge of a vast galaxy of mysteries, yet many at the foot of this hill are not part of the privileged discoveries and imaginings of distant places. Through a series of creative interventions, The Vertical Journey – a gesture both of looking up into the curiosities of space and down onto the realities of today’s challenges – present production experiments on Naval Hill, Boyden Observatory, and the neighbourhood below it,  to tell personal stories and collective expressions. These are projected on the side of Naval Hill and in the planetarium during the time of the Festival.”

Shows at the Naval Hill Planetarium: 2018-07-11/12/14 @ 18:00

Sig/Sight
a studio performance
by Marcus Neustetter
in collaboration with

Reitumetse Lebatla
Regienald Milanzi
Violet Isaacs
Kamogelo Chao
Hakirah Bosch
Sylvia Chaka
Wendy Menong
Zanda Nosenga
Benedicta Osei
Perseverance Mavuso

Petro Engelbrecht
Sifiso Teddy Mhlambi
Mariette Erwee
Fabian Oliver Wargau

Thanks to:

Vrystaat Art Festival
The Andrew W Mellon Foundation
Miné Kleynhans

The Trinity Session
Fabian Oliver Wargau
Ciara Struwig
Paul Setate

The Naval Sig School

The Naval Hill Planetarium
Prof Matie Hoffman
Léon Snyman
Mariette Erwee
Dinah Mangope

The Boyden Observatory
Dawie van Jaarsveldt
Benjamin van Jaarsveldt

MORE:

We are on a spaceship moving through space. On this journey we speculate about new territories and landscapes that have yet to be discovered. Much like the first colour photographs taken of Mars from a local observatory in the early 1900s, these speculations about distant planets are becoming more of a reality as we are sending our first population to live there. And yet, with all the gazing into the sky and studying the distant explorations, we need to ask ourselves what is happening back on earth? What are the voices and futures in the shadows of the telescopes and under the path of the orbiting satellites and space stations? When looking down from that orbiting perspective, the world looks like one unified place and yet on the ground we are conflicted with a complex past, tumultuous present, and seeking a hopeful future.

These speculative spaces, sometimes abstract, sometimes recognisable, are the poetic palette that is used to try to manifest visions of future environments. As these visions are informed by past experiences and present conditions, the aim is to subvert the technological advances of utopian renders and distant points of view, and attempt to retain a local relevance and perspective. This is not easy, given the complex history of occupation and oppression in a context such as South Africa. The scientific research and the imaginary pursuit of foreign discoveries is a privilege that is still held by those that have the knowledge, confidence, and education. The majority of the population is still left voiceless and disempowered in the global power construct and is fed dreams and visions through media channels and indoctrination. The vulnerable search for one’s own voice and perspective feels difficult, frustrating, and often futile.

I want to turn the spaces of scientific pursuit and presentation into a studio of coproduction and personal exploration. Both the Boyden Observatory and the Naval Hill Planetarium are ideal spaces for exploration and discovery – the observatory as an extension to the original use of Naval Hill’s observatory and the planetarium on Naval Hill as a beacon above the Bloemfontein landscape. Much like a naval lookout at the edge of an ocean, this hill and planetarium sits at the edge of a vast galaxy of mysteries. And yet, many at the foot of this portal into another world of science and speculation have the hill in sight but are not part of the discoveries. So, for example the community of Navalsig (translated Naval Sight) have the hill in their daily landscape but are rarely able to escape the realities of the everyday challenges to practice their voices and express their vision.

Through a series of creative interventions, The Vertical Journey will see production experiments on Naval Hill, Boyden Observatory, and the Navalsig neighbourhood to tell personal stories and collective expressions, which will then be used for interactive projections on the side of Naval Hill and in the planetarium during the time of the festival.

While using high-end technological tools of documentation, simulation, and presentation in the language of virtual reality and high definition, the intention is to engage simple low-tech experiments such as shadow sculptures, light drawings and stop-frame animation to tell local stories and articulate locally accessible expression. The result hopes to present artistic imaginary landscapes and speculative future visions that will start to stimulate audiences to contribute with their unique perspective to the studio environment of the planetarium during the shows.