Chris Burden’s 1983 work Scale Model of the Solar System, was on view last weekend as part of the Seattle Art Fair. Burden’s major installation is a scalar model—both in distance and size—of the solar system that uses a ratio of 1 inch to 4.2 trillion inches. Beginning at Gagosian’s booth in the fair, it extended to create a walking tour of Seattle, recreating our immense solar system over the course of one mile.
In the installation, the sun (which measures in at a behemoth 865,000 miles in diameter in its place in the sky) becomes a yellow sphere with a circumference of 40 inches. On the flip side, the smallest planet—the dwarf, Pluto—makes its debut in the form of a .05 inch ball, planted between 3,465 and 3,528 feet from the sun to accurately represent its ranging distance (varying between 2,748 million and 2,817 million miles) in the sky.
Starting off in Gagosian’s booth at the fair, visitors were given a walking map of the city to make their way through the solar system one planet at a time. Via various locations like the Windemere VIP lounge, the Open Editions Book Store, the Pro Shop, and the Provident Building, participants followed the map (complemented by QR codes at each location) until they reached the outermost edge of space, which was found within the Seattle Art Museum.