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The Omega Centauri Project
9 Words Process

Christine Vandemoortele wrote and gathered a thousand sentence fragments from a variety of sources. Each one had to be a familiar cliché, revealing emotions behind the words. Directing actors through different takes of each sentence proved to be a rewarding experience, and an essential facet of her work.

Throughout development, she worked with a number of gifted collaborators who played a key role in the outcome of this unique project. She met astrophysicist Francesco R. Ferraro when she turned to astronomy to find a celestial body that could serve as a model for creating genuinely random encounters between emotions. This led her to globular clusters; the orbits of stars in these clusters are often unpredictable, changing direction as a result of interactions with other stars. A perfect parallel for how emotions interact.

At Vandemoortele's request, Prof. Ferraro built a simulation with a thousand numbered stars. He then took a sequence of 72 snapshots, each a million years apart, at three windows within that simulation. Each snapshot captured random encounters between stars, and thus, between fragments. Each numbered star was twinned with one of the 1,000 numbered fragments of sentences.

Composer Alejandro Viñao was then commissioned to create three 30’ pieces using the sentences she had recorded, following the sequences Prof. Ferraro had created. Viñao developed an intimate musical discourse, using a technique that chopped and edited the text to create rhythms with the words themselves, at times creating an emotional bond between each speaker. His work conveys the idea that all we hear is transitory, and that all these emotions floating freely in space are part of a much bigger picture.

With the completion of the compositions, film seemed an appropriate medium to complete The Omega Centauri Project. Vandemoortele chose to avoid images of the cluster itself and turned instead to material provided by Prof. Ferraro: pages of research, scientific data that probed the origin and nature of Omega Centauri. But deciding how to turn static data on paper into moving images to match the compositions was a daunting task.

This is when she contacted a film editor with a solid background in music. Daniel Goddard brought to life fifty still images per film of raw scientific data, animating and manipulating them into something with emotional depth. He constructed layers of visual texture, inspired by details that reminded him of prehistoric cave paintings, transforming pages of research data into abstract, emotional landscapes.