Interview | ‘STARS’ – Cosimo Scotucci

Sometimes you find a little magic in a small place and sometimes it meets you like a bright light in a dark sky. Such is the case at the wharf where dozens of “stars” are now floating under the half-crane. Architect and artist Cosimo Scotucci brought his installation ‘STARS’ to the NDSM early this month, creating a dreamscape full of wonder. This starry night consists of globes that radiate UV light to the surrounding trees. The light gives them an extra boost they desperately need in the stressful urban landscape. ‘STARS’ is not only a magical installation, but also helps stimulate the ecosystem in innovative ways. With all his innovations and designs, Scotucci tries to imagine a better future and encourages people to reflect on it. We asked the designer to highlight the work even more in an interview. 

The work ‘STARS’ you present at the NDSM not only resembles a beautiful shimmering night sky, but also serves a purpose. Can you tell a bit more about how the idea for this installation was developed?

“We live in a very turbulent time; the climate crisis is the most menacing threat humans have to face. As an artist and designer, I see it as a design challenge. I ask myself every morning: ‘is it possible to design a better world? Is it possible to invent a better future?’.

My daily routine is made up of experimentation, tests, research, failures, and sometimes successes. ‘STARS’ came up during one of these days while experimenting with the beneficial effects of specific light waves on stressed plants. A stressed plant does not work as it should; too much stress can lead to permanent damage or even to the death of the tree. To carry out the global plan of carbon sequestration from the atmosphere, we need to heal and support the existing flora. Plants use the power of our closest star for their metabolic process. ‘STARS’ replicates it, giving extra lifeblood to the surrounding landscape while transforming it into a dreamscape.”

The light installation uses the solar radiation that it is exposed to during the day and gives this back during the night. The globes show different tones that mimic the solar spectrum. Can you elaborate a bit on the stylistic decisions such as the different dimensions of the globes? 

“Everything started with understanding which part of the solar spectrum plants use for their metabolic processes and how to capture and release it when it is not naturally supplied. After deciphering the physics behind the process, I simply let the plants pick their favorite colors.

With ‘STARS’ I wanted to bring the sky a bit closer to the people, letting them feel part of the cosmos. When you look at the sky at night, some of the stars look brighter than others; some closer, some more glittering. I wanted to bring all of this down to the earth, replicating the beauty of a starry night and bringing the people among the stars.”

In addition, with ‘STARS’ you pose the question: “is it possible to boost nature?”. This work shows there are ways we can support existing flora. What do you think we can do as individuals ourselves to boost nature especially in urban surroundings?

“Everyone can actively contribute to a better future. We have a great chance to shape today the world we will live in tomorrow. Through our choices, we are the true designer of our personal and collective future.

Being respectful and considerate about our choices – our daily choices – will already make the whole system better. At this moment, every single thing counts.

Plants are very sensitive to noise, light, and pollution. If we think carefully about our carbon footprint, we can let the plants work at their best, creating the base to keep life on Earth as we know it, which, to me, is extraordinarily beautiful.”

Do you consider this light installation a message to give people a sense of hope regarding the future?

“Absolutely yes. For centuries and millennia, humans have been following the stars to navigate safely across the dark oceans. Now, I hope ‘STARS’ can help us to navigate through this threatening time of change. I really hope that the people who look at the installation or read about will come up with other solutions to make this a better place. We have just started a plan to fight climate change and we need everyone on board to solve it. I do strongly believe in people, in their ability to adapt and respond to threats, in their resilience, and in their imagination. What I like the most is to look at the people standing just below the installation with their nose pointing at the sky, finding a private moment in the infiniteness of the sky.”

What do you think of the NDSM as a rather industrial podium for your work which is more grey than it is green?

“Sincerely, I couldn’t think of a better place for the project. It is grey, indeed, but the green still grows there and it is our duty to help it be healthy and lush. A place like the NDSM is a place where many factors can stress the plants, but it is also where we make the strongest statement. We don’t let the greyness win, we fight. We do everything we can to succeed.

I think we have sent a message to the whole world. Even if the conditions are adverse and even if it doesn’t look possible, there are always lights in our skies and we must chase them. After all, we are all made of stardust.”

‘STARS’ is on display at the NDSM until December 4. Click here to see more of Cosimo Scotucci’s work and click here to follow him on Instagram.

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