Cosmic Connections

Leo Villareal, Cosmos, 2012. White LED lights, custom software, and electrical hardware. Acquired through the generosity of Lisa and Richard Baker, Class of 1988. Photo: James Ewing

Cornell University’s Johnson Museum of Art opened a cosmic new light installation in their elevated sculpture court last month. Leo Villareal, Cosmos, 2012. White LED lights, custom software, and electrical hardware. Acquired through the generosity of Lisa and Richard Baker, Class of 1988. Photo: James Ewing

If you’ve traversed the National Gallery of Art’s concourse walkway in the past four years or followed the emanating glow into a small gallery upstairs in the Phillips house over the past few months, Leo Villareal’s interest in light’s cosmic, infinite possibilities will come as no surprise. Last month, the artist’s latest installation, Cosmos, was unveiled in the sculpture court at Cornell University’s Johnson Museum of Art. It involves twelve thousand LEDs and a zero gravity bench. Two years in the making, this artwork pays tribute to the late Cornell astronomy professor Carl Sagan, who said in the introduction to his 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage:

Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us—there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

Hear Sagan deliver these words in the clip below and, if you will be anywhere near Ithaca, NY, this holiday season and have a chance to experience Villareal’s Cosmos in person, please share your reactions in the comments.

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