People may love science, but they fail to engage with it emotionally, says filmmaker Anthony Lund.
He's attempting to raise $80,000 to make Light in the Void, a cinematic musical performance he's creating with composer Austin Wintory.
The team's Kickstarter page describes the project as follows: "A Light in the Void tells the story of science itself through sweeping cinematic music, real-life scientists speaking on-stage (accompanied by the orchestra!), and wildly entertaining theatrics, video packages, and animations… all performed LIVE and broadcast globally for the entire world to experience. To put it simply: Amazing scientists tell unforgettable stories in an audio/visual spectacular!"
The team has now raised more than $60,000, with eighteen days to go. The project will premiere with the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher Concert Hall on October 5.
“The idea was, let’s package a show that shows science the way it makes us feel,” Wintory explains. “The way we think of it as being, which is an intensely emotional experience. What better way to share an emotional experience than through music?”
The show includes physicist Maria Spiropulu, anthropologist Alice Roberts and planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, who will be accompanied by an eighty-piece orchestra. In the Kickstarter video, Wintory describes the show as “a narrative that walks through humanity’s challenge with these questions, from who are we to where are we going?”
While doing initial research for A Light in the Void, the duo discovered results from a Pew Research Center study: About 80 percent of people have positive feelings when asked what they think about science. But very few engage with scientific media or debate. Furthermore, Lund was disheartened to learn that about one-third of the population believes the information at science museums is false.
“What is very strange is that the public loves, loves, loves science, but they’re just not engaging with it,” Lund says. “That's because the public doesn’t yet have a broad emotional relationship with science.”
Stereotypes plague the public's understanding of science. “They still kind of think scientists are cast members of The Big Bang Theory,” Lund says. “[They think that] science is all about spouting scientific jargon and bullshit that is impenetrable and incomprehensible. And it’s not! Science is a way of thinking. It’s a way of skeptically interrogating the universe to know and understand a deeper truth.”
Lund recalls being a rebellious teenager growing up Mormon in Salt Lake City, Utah. Instead of finding drugs, sex and rock and roll, he found physics. It completely changed how he viewed the world and challenged his religious beliefs. He hopes to share the impact science had on his personal life through A Light in the Void.
“When you have a relationship with [science] and an experience with it — even if you’re not making cutting-edge discoveries, but going through that process of sorting out what is really true about the physical world and all that can be measured — it changes your life forever,” Lund says. “It enriches your life. It’s life-affirming, joyous and beautiful. That’s an experience that has shaped our lives in profound and meaningful ways, and we want as many people as possible to have an opportunity to feel what that feels like.”
The goal of A Light in the Void is to ultimately make people feel something.
“We’re not aspiring to lay a bunch of science trivia at your feet for you to just pick away at like a buffet and say, ‘Ah, that part about the formation of the solar system was really cool; I didn’t necessarily understand that part about the evolution of organisms on the genetic level, but then I really thought that part about Saturn was cool.’" Wintory says. "That’s actually not the goal of the show. I don’t care if you learn a single thing. The goal is that you walk away with the association of science as an emotional experience. That all you remember is how you felt.”
Lund, who has created documentaries like Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, often hears from viewers: “You make science so cool!”
“Science doesn’t need people to make it cool,” Lund says. “It just needs people to bring its truth and what it really is to the greater populace. It’s a beautiful, amazing, wonderful thing. People like Austin and I use our tools that we know best to communicate that raw emotion.”
A Light in the Void, Friday, October 5, Boettcher Concert Hall, 1000 14th Street, 720-856-4220. Tickets go on sale August 1.