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Conductor The Light Of Stars

"I give the first watch of the night, To the red planet Mars." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1838

This is part of a larger artwork. See the full artwork series:

Conductor: The Light of Stars is a deeply interactive installation in which the participant assumes the role of an invisible but omnipotent celestial force manipulating the orbits of the planets.

Central to the artwork’s composition is the use of sound, interwoven with touch and movement. By incorporating auditory elements that respond to the participant’s actions, the work transcends the traditional limitations of visual art, establishing an emotional connection that fully immerses the viewer in the experience. As the planets align, a dynamic soundtrack evolves in response to the player’s gestures, growing increasingly intricate as their movements become more pronounced.

The addition of the poem ‘The Light of Stars’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to the music reinforces the themes of connection, mystery and awe. The poem speaks of the eternal nature of the stars and the strength they give. While participants engage with the interactive elements of the artwork, the poem acts as a guiding force, leading them to ponder deeper questions about the nature of existence and our connection to the cosmos.

Harris approached João Victor to narrate the poem in a series of recordings commissioned in 2023. Victor’s association with the poem runs deep, as it was in 2019 that Victor stunned the USA at the National Poetry Recitation finals with his recitation of the text. This achievement was all the more impressive considering he had arrived with his father and brother in Maine only three years earlier, seeking asylum from Angola.
For the music and audio composition, Harris turned to his long-term collaborators the musical composers Dougal Drummond and Kristian Gilroy. The music composition for Conductor has been composed specifically for the ‘Light of Stars’ reading by João Victor, and is itself an immersive experience.

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Edition of 8 + 2 Artist Proofs + 2 Museum Proofs


Code, electronics, computer, 4K touch display screen, sensors, audio system, steel, aluminium


The musical composition is by Kristian Gilroy and Dougal Drummond (in 2023). The musical scores within "Conductor" are not released elsewhere.
The poem was "The Light of Stars" was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (in 1838).
The narration of the poem is performed by João Victor (in 2023).

Dimensions in MM:

1543(W) x 2409 (H) x 214 (D) mm

Dimensions in INCHES:

60 (W) x 98 (H) x 8.5 (D) inches


"There is a tension in Harris work where on the one hand, some of the pieces work as slick technological tools, gamifying the artwork and using strategies inherent to the language of video games (such as the hidden “easter eggs” in Harris latest piece Conductor  and on the other hand the technology dissolves leaving nothing but a window to another world. A term originally derived from programming, easter eggs are secret in-jokes or extras activated with specific key presses or via fulfilling certain conditions. Conductor is highly interactive and allows the participant to take on the role of an invisible but omnipotent celestial force manipulating the orbits of the planets with a variety of gestures. As the planets align, the feedback comes in the form of a dynamic soundtrack which grows ever more complex as the player’s gestures become more extravagant encouraging performativity and the desire to experiment. The interface, activated by gestures of the body recalls not only technologies adapted from gaming systems such as the Kinect or the Eye Toy, but also suggests earlier interactive ‘god sims’ popular in the 1990s (such as Populous from designer Peter Molyneux) as well as looking forward to next generation Virtual Reality systems such as the Oculus Rift."

Extract from essay by Sunny Cheung

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