Copernicus and The Five Years Out Challenge

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Arrow Five Years Out Art Challenge

Arrow Electronics and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival invited artists from all over the world to explore the notion of innovation and to express, through their particular medium, what Five Years Out might look like. From the proposals submitted, five projects were selected to become a part of Arrow Electronics’ prestigious art collection.

My piece, r+Evolution2020, was one of the five selected. Below is my vision statement in response to the question of innovation, change, and the future.


How do we engage with a rapidly changing world? What is the relationship we should be developing with change five years out–or even five weeks out?

My piece takes inspiration from Copernicus, who revolutionized the way we think about our place in the universe by offering a view of a Sun-centered, as opposed to Earth-centered, solar system. In r+Evolution2020, Copernicus stands at the center of contemporary society, surrounded by the tools of Renaissance astronomy, contemporary mathematical symbols, and electronic media including workstations, computers, laptops, cell phones, tablets, and an oscilloscope.

While Copernicus was not the first to propose the concept of a sun-centered universe, “…he was the first to work out his theory in full mathematical detail and to create a complete and general system combining mathematics, physics, and cosmology” (Eric Weisstein, PhD). In doing this, he not only revolutionized our thinking, he shaped both the conceptual and the tangible future.

Most people agree that change, including developments in technology and shifting societal norms, is imperative if we are to expand our understanding of our world and move forward. But with change often comes discomfort, and we often do not meet it with openness. Copernicus knew that his ideas would cause uproar, but he also knew that his discoveries were necessary to the world, that they were the precursor to a thoughtful, progressive, and informed dialogue about the universe and our place in it.

In creating r+Evolution2020, I placed a modern day Copernicus in the center of the image encircled by his own diagram of the cosmos (published in 1543). Orbiting around him are mathematical equations, a computer workstation, an Arrow Electronics oscilloscope, a globe from the Renaissance period, laptops, keyboards and tablets. In the background is the “universe,” which I created by piecing together photographs I have taken of weathered paint, mathematical equations, and Copernicus’s own diagrams. The “stars” are photographs of splattered concrete on the side of a train car. On his tie are additional references to media and technology.

Today’s technological advances are the result of the confluence of ancient and modern revolutionary thinkers. It is in merging the revolutionary with the evolutionary, and the theoretical with the practical, that they build the bridge between where we are and where we will be.


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