THE UNIVERSE, OBSERVED
Karima Afghoul 𝄅 John Mendoza 𝄅 Ursula J'vlyn d'Ark 𝄅 Gabrielle Simard
hand-woven beadwork, UV lights, motion sensor
6' x 7' x 8'6"
Our history is being lost. Light from distant stars takes millions or billions of years to reach us and thus shows us our past, the history of our universe. However, light is also in a race against one of the most mysterious facets of our universe: Dark Energy, the driving force behind the ever-accelerating expansion of our universe. Yet, we already know the outcome of this contest: light will eventually be outrun by expansion. Our observable universe will shrink; all that we were ever able to see will recede away from us, inaccessible in the darkness. It will seem as if we are alone.
Fortuitously, humans arrived at a special moment in cosmic time, still capable of observing the vast expanse of our universe - and even discovering the sobering truth that one day it will be lost. Using hand-woven beadwork, a motion sensor, and programmable UV lights, The Universe, Observed seeks to interrogate the tension of this cosmic countdown by transporting the viewer through an ultra-accelerated timeline of our observable universe. Through this, the viewer will be able to experience our dark fate - and in the process, live the beautiful paradox of our ability to know what will be lost.
Karima Afghoul is a second-year undergraduate BFA student in Design at Concordia University. She mainly focuses on graphic design as she tries to approach the practice with a more sustainable perspective. Karima has also a good amount of experience in social media design as well as branding. As she explores different areas of design, she started dabbling in web and user experience design which allows her to create more user-centric and holistic designs. In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature and finding new brunch spots in the city.
John Mendoza is primarily a graphic designer but has interests in venturing in other areas of design. He is particularly interested in the collaborative nature of design and its link in all fields, which compelled him to pursue higher education. Today, he is currently studying Design at Concordia University as an undergrad while working as a visual communication lab coordinator where he oversees the many talented students and their projects to provide support ranging from technical to conceptual.
Ursula J'vlyn d'Ark
Ursula J’vlyn d’Ark is an artist and software developer based in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, on the unceded Indigenous lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation. Originally from the Deep South of the U.S., they were reborn in the queer underground of Montréal. By night, d'Ark spent years as a DJ and event organizer, creating experiences that ushered audiences through strange, ecstatic journeys. By day, they bring their creative and technical skillsets to their work as a backend software developer.
Gabrielle Simard is discovering the various possibilities of design as a first-year undergraduate student in Design at Concordia University. She previously obtained her Master’s degree and her Ph.D. in astrophysics at McGill university, after completing her undergraduate degree in physics at Université de Montréal and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. During her academic path in physics, Gabrielle got increasingly interested in science outreach, visual communication and in what lies at the intersection of science and society.
Cosmology is a subfield of astrophysics aiming to study the origin and the evolution of our universe on large scales. A determining moment in the development of the field corresponds to the landmark discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe in 1998. The precise mechanism of this cosmic accelerated expansion remains unknown, but a possible explanation could be found in the abundant presence of dark energy, a component of the mass-energy makeup of the universe that only started to dominate the universe recently in cosmic history. Understanding the nature of dark energy remains one of the main challenges of modern cosmology up to this day.
Given that light travels at a finite speed and given that our universe is understood to have a finite age, we are intrinsically limited in the information we can have access to from the observation point corresponding to Earth. As the universe expands, light coming from astrophysical objects needs to cross an increasing amount of space before reaching us; these objects are therefore being progressively pushed outside of the portion of the universe we can observe. During the current epoch of accelerated cosmic expansion, information from a growing part of the universe becomes unavailable to us, and that effect is intrinsically linked to the presence of dark energy.