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Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

September 6–November 11, 2007
at the Tufts University Art Gallery
Medford, MA

The Center of Cosmic Energy Book

In the course of our lives, we have all felt that certain places have special qualities, that they impart great feelings of power, serenity, spirituality, or a sense of connection to the universe, even to the cosmos.  These special places are analogous to “reservoirs” containing an inexplicable force that is perhaps best called “cosmic energy.”  In all likelihood many more such places exist on Earth than we realize. The reported discovery of drawings and objects beneath the Tufts University Art Gallery during construction excavation suggests that this very site may once have been used to capture and preserve “cosmic energy.” Could it do so again? If so, it begs the question: How do we harness “cosmic energy”?

The Center of Cosmic Energy is a “realized conceptual experiment” conceived by renowned artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov as a proposal for harnessing “cosmic energy.” Ilya, who emigrated to the US from Moscow in 1989, and his wife Emilia have collaborated on a series of large-scale art installations that are driven by a vision of a more harmonious, more creative future made possible by obtaining greater access to “cosmic energy.”  The Center of Cosmic Energy represents a “monumental model” that manifests the Kabakovs’ vision. 

Ilya Kabakov
The Structure of the "throne" in the landscape reliefs

What are the Intuition of the Throne and the Intuition of Place?
Even now, hundreds or thousands of years after their creation, we experience feelings of strength, tranquility, and confidence when we visit specific natural and ancient built sites like “The Throne of the Gods” in the northern Altai region (Mongolia), the Temple of Apollo in Delphi and ancient Mykonos in Greece, the landscape in Iceland where the first parliament was built, the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. Other such places have doubtless been lost to memory, but their power awaits rediscovery by future generations.

The first explorers who went to such places noticed that the local inhabitants were familiar with and deeply honored special places in their landscapes. The Kabakovs submit these sites were selected through an Intuition of Place, or surge of energy, received at these locations, and by an Intuition of the Throne. All are laid out—by geology or human sculpting—so that each forms the shape of a “throne”—a gigantic semi-circular hollow in the mountainside, revealing before and below it an infinite valley or a view of the mountains all the way to the horizon. Inside these “thrones” there is an extraordinarily strong presence of cosmic flow. While the present topography of Walnut Hill-Mystic River seems undramatic, samples of deep geological layers of this area and the arrangement of gravel around the three “reservoirs.” suggest another, more auratic layout in the distant past.

What is the Intuition of Sixty Degrees?
“Cosmic Energy” moves downward toward us at specific locations, not quite vertically, but at a 60-degree angle. This perception, derived from many disparate peoples, places, and eras, is the Intuition of Sixty Degrees. When a structure incorporates the 60-degree angle toward the cosmos, the Intuition takes effect. In The Communication with the Cosmos Building, we enter a round amphitheater, enclosed by an oval cylinder whose walls incline at 60 degrees. Once seated, the Intuition of Sixty Degrees takes effect. We are then optimally positioned to experience the great power of receiving cosmic energy.

What is the Intuition of Close Energy?
Travelers to foreign destinations often observe the reverence local people hold for specific places in the landscape. When we find ourselves on a throne—one of these reverential places¬¬—we sense a powerful feeling of energy from a very specific spot, while quite nearby we feel nothing. This can be likened to the acoustics of the ancient Greek amphitheaters, where inside we hear everything perfectly but just outside sound is incomprehensible or inaudible. This phenomenon is the “Intuition of Close Energy.” Could mastery of this “Close Energy” lead to new, unlimited possibilities for humankind?

What is the Noosphere?
The conduct of experiments on the perception of signals from the noosphere is one of the most important projects of the Center of Cosmic Energy.

There are two senses in which the idea of a noosphere has been understood. The Russian scientist V. I. Vernadsky (1863-1945) foretold that a new state of existence would emerge when life within the biosphere, the zone of earth and atmosphere where life is found, would become unsustainable unless it evolved toward a new state of existence, the noosphere. In this protective envelope, nature and humankind would coexist harmoniously and all of humankind’s material and spiritual needs would be met.

Others have read into Vernadsky’s hypothesis the immensely appealing idea that the wisdom of the ancients has not been lost forever but has been accumulated and preserved in a zone of collective knowledge, the noosphere. Today, only a small number of people are able to access this eternally alive archive and many who have this ability are unaware of it. But it must exist: how else can we account for the elderly women woman in remote northern Yakutsk who suddenly writes poetry in French, a tongue she has neither studied nor heard? If we could establish permanent contact with the noosphere that enfolds the Earth, we could tap into the vast realm of human memory, creativity, and thought going back to our first words and tools.

Ilya Kabakov
Projects and structures made taking into account the 60-degree angle (the angle of cosmic energy)

Ilya Kabakov
View of the slanted columns-antennae from the viewing hall.

Ilya Kabakov
The Noosphere

Ilya Kabakov
Early drawing of the Communication with the Cosmos Building for the Tufts University Art Gallery

Welcome to The Communication with the Cosmos Building, part of The Center of Cosmic Energy. Scientists designed and constructed the building based on amazing archaeological discoveries and the theories scientists have used to explain them. By visiting this special place, you become part of a grand scientific experiment to determine if we can harness, direct, and preserve the energy of the cosmos. As you contemplate the history and meaning of The Center of Cosmic Energy, you may sense a proximity to the cosmos you have never felt before.

Click here for more images of the Communication with the Cosmos Building

Click here to read the narrative for the Communication with the Cosmos Building, written by the Kabakov's and playing during the exhibition.

Ilya Kabakov
Early drawing of the Archaeological Zone for the Tufts University Art Gallery

At the turn of the 20th century construction activity near the Mystic River on the Medford-Somerville line revealed caves with evidence of human activity believed to date from the early first century B.C.E. These caves are embedded in the slopes of Walnut Hill, which is now part of the Tufts University campus. A cursory examination of the caves revealed puzzling wall drawings showing arched antennae and mysterious reservoirs or amphorae. However, archaeologists were not able to conduct systematic investigations at that time.

The 1961 construction of a ventilation complex near the Walnut Hill site reawakened interest in the strange cave drawings. Once again, however, archaeological excavations were halted to allow construction to go forward. It was not until 1991, when the ventilation complex closed, that it was possible for excavations to begin again.

When the scientific study of the site resumed in 1991, archaeologists found two groups of unexpected and sensational objects without precedent in the archaeological record. The first contained three well-preserved reservoirs made of a dense, rocky material similar to concrete, arranged at an angle one above the other so that the mouth of each enters into the bottom of the one above. [Is this correct? In the film, it is the opposite, I think] The second group of objects contained two items: a similar well-preserved bowl-like reservoir of significantly larger size, and two arched antennae connected by their protruding sides.

The archaeologists noted the similarity between the two groups of objects and the nearby cave drawings. There was a great deal of heated discussion in the scholarly press as to their significance. While scholars have proposed hypotheses about the use of these objects and their depictions in the cave, their genuine meaning remains unresolved and controversy persists.

Early installation photo of the Archaeological Zone for the Tufts University Art Gallery