CENOTAPHICAL TAPESTRY FOR STEPHEN HAWKING
proposal for tapestry design
in collaboration with Louise Allen
2018, TAPESTRY DESIGN PRIZE FOR ARCHITECTS COMPETITION
PHAROS WING, MUSEUM OF OLD AND NEW
Etienne Louis Boullee’s design for Cenotaph for Newton manifests the understanding of the universe at the time into a visionary work of architecture. The shape of the massive sphere recollects the almost fully discovered known world globe and known shapes of most celestial objects. At daytime; the sphere casts pinhole lights into the interior like stars among the cosmos and at night; a lantern in the center of the sphere shines bright light like the sun in the solar system. In the same honorific spirit, our proposal for the tapestry imagines to exemplify the zeitgeist of our knowledge of the universe not dissimilar to Jean Tinguely mechanical reconstructions – to dedicate to the passing of the greatest mind of our time – Stephen Hawking.
Our investigation begins with the questioning of the flatness of a tapestry work – to equal the relative flatness of the known universe in the cosmic scale. Like Einstein’s theory of general relativity of how gravity of planet Earth warps the space-time like a ball in a trampoline – we draped the tapestry around the globe, distorting the flatness of the tapestry into a surface that envelops spatially. The curvature and transparency is manipulated through elements of tapestry; the weaving of threads through the forces of tension and gravity pulling the tapestry needle to the ground. Like a strong gravitational pull, the observer is drawn into the curvature defining the entry and inherently the spacetime around him.
Inside the shroud, the form that has always been the lifetime fascination of Stephen Hawking reveals itself – a singularity, the vortex of the black hole where the gravity is so immense that light will not be able to escape. Such intriguing form in its grandiose scale manifests itself in the engineering necessity of nuclear cooling towers. Being inside one, the observer is drawn into the accentuating light, except in a black hole – into the unescapable abyss. The semi invisible cosmic colours of the microwave spectrum drawn into the blackness escaping comprehension; the likes of the fleeting aurora, or the blurry nebula. From the threads of gravitational and electromagnetic waves. Emblematic of Stephen Hawking’s life, we invite the observers to look up not into the angst of existential black hole; but to be humbled with the mysteries of the cosmos and to persevere towards the unknown edge of the universe.