Inspired by Beethoven, Auckland artist Matthew Tucker has created a masterpiece of his own.
Make your way along Te Ara I Whiti - The Lightpath between dusk and dawn - from 25 November until 10 December - and you’ll witness Matthew’s music-meets-mathematics artwork. Symphony in Space (2023) is a collaboration between Matthew Tucker, Māpura Studios and iion, supported by Auckland Council Public Art.
Symphony in Space was inspired by the matching of the number of keys on a standard piano keyboard with the number of constellations officially recognised by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
Matthew ascribed a constellation to each piano key from largest to smallest from left to right, then scaled the keyboard to the full length of the bridge with every three lights representing one piano key.
To create the movement of light across the path, the artist composed a melody by playing each key in order from the brightest star in each constellation to the dimmest. The result is a chromatic tune which washes the path in waves of rainbow light. When each note is played, the light rods illuminate and then fade away as the next note is played.
The light patterns are visible to viewers on the path and Matthew’s melody is available at the Auckland Council Public Art website: aucklandpublicart.com
Hayley Wolters, Manager Public Art, Service Strategy and Partnerships, for Auckland Council, encourages Aucklanders to view this artwork and learn the inspiring backstory.
“Auckland Council Public Art are excited to present Symphony in Space and we invite all Aucklanders to visit this work while it’s in place – an experience not to be missed,” she says.
Matthew’s love of cosmology stems from a childhood fascination with looking at the stars through the skylight in his bedroom. He explains that the artwork merges music, astronomy and mathematics.
“I love these subjects. I have learned a lot through this project, and I think it will give me a greater perspective in my art practice in the future,” he says.
Matthew’s enduring love of classical music has Beethoven at its heart. The legendary German composer’s hearing deteriorated so much; he was completely deaf by the age of 44.
Matthew also lives with disability, but it is no barrier to his ability to explore universal concepts of mathematics, stargazing and music. He has been painting with Māpura Studios for over 18 years.
Councillor Richard Hills says he’s excited to see artists using our beautiful Te Ara I Whiti - The Lightpath as their canvas.
“I would like to congratulate Matthew on his extraordinary artwork. It is astonishing in both its creativity and execution. I encourage all to visit the path and pay tribute to Matthew’s talent while celebrating the way it shines light on The International Day of People with Disabilities. The energy and positivity art brings to our society is immeasurable,” he says.
The scale of this Te Ara I Whiti - The Lightpath project is the biggest and most complex of Matthew’s career. With the support of David Hayes of iion, Māpura Studios and Auckland Council, he has created a symphony of mathematics, light and music.
This artwork is featured on Te Ara I Whiti - The Lightpath in recognition of The International Day of People with Disabilities on 3 December.