A newly commissioned installation by the highly regarded artist Jem Finer, The Centre of the Universe, will take the form of a large-scale spiral tower supporting a radio dish. It will be both a sculptural object in the landscape and a working radio telescope that 'listens' to the universe (tuned to 1420 Mhz, the frequency used by astrophysicists to chart the structure and vastness of the universe).
Jem has been working closely with scientists at the University and the project takes its title from the artist's understanding that, regardless as to whether the universe is finite or infinite, it has no central point, togther with the notion that all individuals perceive the universe exists around themselves. The tower also alludes to the ancient ziggurats of the Middle East, built to get closer to, and observe the heavens. The installation will be an observatory, and it is this idea of observation that Jem sees as integral to both the practice of the artist and the scientist.
The project will take place in Oxford University Parks from 4-17 June where Jem will be 'in residence' whilst the telescope is on display. It will be free to the public and can be viewed from dawn till dusk.
In parallel with The Centre of the Universe, Jem is also in the process of assembling a collection of O-Maps of the universe and of Oxford, drawn by people from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines including astrophysicists, school children, art students and local people. The project explores the extremes of size and scale that exist in the universe and will be shown as part of the Oxford 2015 exhibition at Modern Art Oxford from 9-19 June as part of Evolving City.