Orbis Lumen (ATOMSPHERE I)

"If we were to eliminate all the empty space within our atoms, the entire human population, comprising 8 billion individuals, could be contained within the volume of just one sugar cube."

ORBIS LUMEN shows a map of the Earth constructed from more than 40,000 white industrial sugar cubes and illuminated by the complete sequence of all nuclear explosions from 1945 to the present day. ORBIS LUMEN stages the most extreme power released by mankind, which irrevocably changed the atmosphere and ignited the epoch of the atomsphere with its application and supposed "mastery" of atomic power.

Using the cubes as three-dimensional pixels, ORBIS LUMEN emphasizes the intimate relationship between information, energy, resources and their resulting impact on society and nature.

In times of peace, sugar is being used as a food source and a potentially abundant regenerative source of energy (ethanol for machines). Energy may even become the primary product of sugar cane processing, rather than sugar itself. Nevertheless, in times of war, sugar is the first item to be rationed as a building block for making conventional explosives.

Common depictions of Earth which we see in news and navigation systems are based on the Mercator projection displaying distorted and incorrect proportions of Earth’s landmasses.

Buckminster Fuller's 1943 Dymaxion map is the only flat map of the entire surface of the Earth that reveals our planet as one continent in one ocean, without any obvious distortions of the relative shapes and sizes of the land areas, and without splitting any continents.

This anthropocentric map anticipated a new planetary environment, illustrating the possibility of a Russian nuclear missile approaching the United States via the North Pole - a subtle aspect absent from the commonly employed Mercator map.

ORBIS LUMEN highlights that what is often perceived as a "mastery" of nuclear power is, in reality, a repeated and deep-seated mistake, further exacerbated with each iteration. We continue to err, with some of these mistakes yielding practical insights, while others bring about alarming and destructive consequences. Many times, these errors encompass both aspects. ORBIS LUMEN provokes profound reactions and reflections on our technological advancements, their consequences and the impending threat of nuclear warfare and omnicide, the annihilation of all life forms, including humanity.

Welcome to the atomsphere!

  • Michael Saup
  • Andreas Erhart
  • Andrea Winter
    Key Collaborators
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Completion Date:
    November 16, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Student Project:
  • https://www.cynetart.org
    November 16, 2017
  • Luminale Frankfurt
    March 18, 2018
  • Noise Signal Silence
    April 28, 2018
  • Ars Electronica
    September 6, 2018
    International premiere
  • Muffatwerk
    November 3, 2018
  • Pochen Biennale
    November 3, 2018
  • Oval Office
    December 13, 2018
Director Biography - Michael Saup

Michael Saup is a German artist, researcher, instrumentalist, filmmaker and coder, pioneering the use of software as an artistic medium. He studied music, computer science and visual communication. He has acted as professor at HfG/ZKM in Germany and as the founding director of the Oasis Archive of the European Union. He is the co-founder of the Open Home Project, a humanitarian initiative to help people being affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan. Michael Saup’s work focuses on the underlying forces of nature and society; an ongoing research into what he calls the “Archaeology of Future”. Michael Saup : “Art is the Signature of our Species.” Among his works are sound driven computer animations, interactive concerts and interactive site-specific light installations. In the early 2000’s his Weapons of Mass Education workshops were given in India, Afghanistan, Morocco and Europe. He shows in major museums, festivals and theatres worldwide, and has produced collaborative works with diverse, contemporary artists. He is now based in Berlin.

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Director Statement

As an artist, filmmaker, and educator, my creative journey has included pioneering the use of software in art, creating virtual digital worlds that respond to sound, and exploring radioactivity as a future art medium. I have exposed millions of people to mesmerizing light and sound experiences, imagined VR environments, and explored the connection between energy and art. My work reflects a deep reverence for nature and society and embodies the "archaeology of the future." Through teaching and collaborative projects, I have shared my passion and knowledge with others. Now living in Berlin, I continue to evolve and inspire through art.