Atoll – 6282 is an artificial island designed to let visitors experience the universe through a journey. Every Atoll is a ring-shaped raft placed in the ocean and encircling a lagoonal planetarium. Version 6282 is the newest version and at this point the most complete.
The single spherical room of a common planetarium represents a geocentric comprehension of space. In such a room, space is projected on a curved surface simulating the heavens, while spectators watch from the ground, imagined as the Earth’s surface. On Atoll, the universe is shattered onto multiple screens placed on floating ribbons and showing a large number of projections simultaneously. Our current knowledge about space is stretched across seemingly endless surface, presenting a library of not only pictures and sounds collected from Earth and space explorations, but also theories and models described by astrophysicists.
Visitors can board Atoll by helicopter or by boat at either end of the carrier. Their journeys through space start by entering small submarines guided by lecturers or by putting on swimming suits and headphones for individual expeditions. Audience members choose their destination by drawing lines on an interactive map of the lagoon. This map shows the current positions of projections on topics such as Big Bang, the solar system, galaxy flocks, star typology, asteroid paths, etc. Navigation is led by GPS. Stripes of universe videos placed near the ocean surface are gently moved by currents forming a three-dimensional watery desert of spacious dunes. Each dune is like one theater that is connected continuously with another. A second way of spectating involves walking across bridges on pontoons that connect the perimeter of the carrier’s ring. This view of the lagoon offers a fused image of “Atoll’s multiverse.” The third possibility for experiencing space on Atoll takes place within a type of structure commonly used for educational purposes—an amphitheater that is often located at the center of the carrier. It is placed beneath sea level, offering a motionless screen projection of the nearest ribbon through its thick glass window.
The carrier is constructed out of several ship-like units, sorted in a unique spine that anchors the ribbons with screens. Each unit is designed according to the program on the specific Atoll. The program also dictates the size and the shape of each island. Screens are made out of cell-pixels mixed with solar cells, which are used for energy gathering. Silicon pipes filed with air form stripes that float in the planetarium lagoon. The amount of air in certain pipe creates the conditions for a given ribbon’s lowering or lifting.
Traveling through Atoll, where a simulated universe is created in the ship’s crescent or loop, could be considered as the metaphysical opposite of journey in a space shuttle. Browsing through hundreds of screens and choosing information that is of one’s interest is already a common activity. With dark voids between its curtains, this island that carries available knowledge about space also reminds us of the unknown. No matter how huge in diameter, Atoll is only a feather on the ocean’s surface.