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Heavens, 2021

4K video with sound, 30 min

Artist : Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen

Venue : FAAMAI Digital Arts Hub

Heavens is an immersive installation that draws inspiration from a hypothesis that regards the octopus as a radical other being evolved from a virus from outer space. The work proposes an alternative understanding of ecology, and transforming one’s relationship to the world on a cosmic scale. The multi-brained cephalopod is evoked in absentia; its body rendered into being by historical and cultural projections attached to this alien species. Probing manifold forms of knowledge, such as astrophysics, forensic psychotherapy, and escapology, the artists interviewed experts about and around the behavior and character of octopi; the words form the lyrics to the libretto accompanying the hypnotic imagery. 

In 1926, Walter Benjamin wrote “To the Planetarium” after the opening of the Berlin Zeiss-Planetarium, a melancholic lament on a sense of loss, and the effacement of wonder at the universe ushered in by advances in optical technology. The expansionist quest for science transport modern humans further away from questions of our existence in relationship to planetary history and deep time. Conceived with the context of a planetarium in mind, the geodesic presentation comes full circle in Bangkok. At odds with a world of deprived of visceral experience, when gathered in communion, Heavens recalls moments of being alive, amid reinstating our relationship with other bodies that transcends our planet into deep space.

Download Libretto

Commissioned by The Serpentine Galleries London, with support by Composition by Pan Daijing features vocals of Anna Davidson and Marie Gailey.