Stargate: n. a portal that permits instantaneous travel from one universe to another.

And we’ve brought one down to Earth. This public art installation — a collection of lights and sounds suspended in a dark subway stairwell — transforms the way people travel. Between rushed commutes and claustrophobic spaces, Stargate is (quite literally) light at the end of the tunnel. And we all know that travel can seem faster and smoother when your mind is in the right place.

 

But travel also becomes slower. Stargate’s lights and sounds are synchronized with traffic flow, so that commuters have a sense of meaning and connectedness during their busiest (and often loneliest) of moments. Sometimes the best thing we can do when we’re in a rush is to stop.

 

The bottom line: Stargate brings awe to a mundane transition point — encouraging people to appreciate the journey, not just the destination.

 

What makes Stargate awe-inspiring?

It’s an aesthetic experience. With lights that pulse as people walk by, Stargate is visually striking — tracing paths that would otherwise be invisible to us. It’s also is also an auditory experience, with a simple melody playing that crescendos and diminishes in time with people’s movement.

 

It’s a meaningful experience. We associate the universe with wonder and the unknown. Space is vast and beyond our comprehension, and much like awe, it connects us through time, distance, and geography. Here, we’ve brought vastness into a space that’s closed.

 

It’s an emotional experience. Sometimes, we just want to feel connected here on Earth. Stargate helps us see how humans can move beautifully even in small spaces, and how our small movements connect to something larger. Paths, connections, crowding, solitude — they’re all worth noticing.