Janani Balasubramanian

“I have thought about this question for a long time. That is, whether I would prefer to be conscious or unconscious.” – Rogue Objects

Rogue Objects is an intimate, large-scale audio augmented reality (AR) experience developed in association with the Hayden Planetarium/American Museum of Natural History and the Public Theater. Its narrator is a brown dwarf—a lonely celestial object, neither planet nor star—that struggles with feeling conscious in an unconscious universe. Hundreds of participants are invited to assemble in large public spaces where they hear guided instruction, playful storytelling, and original music via audio AR headsets. The piece is at once an experiment in the limits of empathy, a poetic engagement with astrophysics, and a game.

Rogue Objects is informed by the work of the brown dwarf astrophysics group at the Hayden Planetarium/American Museum of Natural History, where the artist has been in residence for the past two years. Brown dwarfs themselves are liminal objects, somewhere in between stars and planets with respect to mass and brightness. Their formation stories frequently involve exile from stellar and planetary systems, and thus offer us a new scientific and metaphorical space in which to understand selfhood, otherness, and the universe at large. Brown dwarfs are celestial objects for the rest of us.