2MF or two million future

Lighting Up the Wonders of the Elements. In its third edition, SKYWAY ’11 draws the analogy between the richness of the experience that light based art delivers and wonders of the world opened up through our understanding of the Elements of the Universe. The classical four elements – Earth, Water, Air, and Fire – are common to many philosophical traditions around the world and form powerful metaphors of forces fundamental to life on Earth. In the imagination of culture, where pagan traces never are totally dissolved, these elements refer to ancient beliefs inspired by the observation of natural phenomena. Already in Babylonian mythology four cosmic elements are described: sea, earth, sky, wind…

In Western classical thought, there has been a strong conviction of the existence of four elements Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. A fifth element is at times added. The Greeks called it Aether. Following Aristotle’s reasoning that fire, earth, air, and water were earthly and did not provide an exact explanation for all phenomenon happening in the heavenly regions. The stars cannot be made out of any of the four elements and must therefore be made of a different, unchangeable, heavenly substance. So it is this Aether idea that links us to the Cosmos. This is a vision and a quest that is universal and shared by distant civilizations, from India to China, Japan, Latin America. For contemporary scientific community Aether serves as a touchstone for discussions and it can also be an inspiring metaphor for cultural production. The relationship with more scientifically founded categories can be probed deeper. Even today, earth, water, air, and fire are everyday symbols for the states of matter such as solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. While empirical Science has arrived at new conceptions, in the field of Belief or in certain Physics tendencies these elements are still important today as a poignant metaphor for the oneness of everything. SKYWAY’s 2011 artistic programme once again celebrates Human imagination in a world which is becoming more and more infinite but also more and more proximate to our reasoning, by means of contemporary science, namely astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology. Since the stars are closer and in reaching for them again we want to understand also our own fundamental ‘elements’ – forces and interactions ruling inside us. And of course that even if the ‘five elements world’ is far from current knowledge about the Universe, still it can be a great contribution to an open discussion about our role in this ‘cold place’ we used to call Cosmos. Bringing together the ideas of Light Art and the languages of Science and Fiction, Poetics and Physics, SKYWAY ‘11 opens up a stage filled with vivid emotions and joy in which the city of Torun becomes the central performer. In the year, in which our city celebrates the 600. Anniversary of the Thorn Peace Treaty –, the wondrous dynamics of the whole Universe is envisaged during six days of contact with ancient cultural anachronisms – inspired by reflections by Parmenides, Heraclitus and Aristotle –, and their actual historically contemporary counterparts, clearly informed by technoscientific principles.

For the visitor, it is a chance to contact with traditional culture – from Myth to proto-science – and have a glimpse at some of the most provocative and innovatory possibilities of the more and more extensively shared cultures of science and art. The event explores the ways to contact the basic ‘alphabet’ of the Universe. It allows a complex interactions with each artwork in Festival which inscribes itself in the urban and social context. The artworks won’t be related only with fundamental aspects of the life and identity of the City of Torun, but will allow every visitor a very personal experience. Since its inception, SKYWAY has drawn on and highlighted the wealth of the history and synergies in the relationship between art and the science of astronomy, also myth, history and heritage. Its aim has been to bring through art a deeper understanding of the passion and the dreams that drive the human quest for knowledge and self-expression. The Elements metaphor recaptures the sense of this Festival for Torun – and brings it to a higher level of value. Thus, SKYWAY once again, and now with even more will to follow the possibilities of imagination, from strictly astronomical or physics thematic to what is broadly understood as urban culture. By these means, we use the richness of potential of SKYWAY’without losing its science&art core.