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ASTROArts Blog from Thilina Heenatigala

Visual Metaphors of the Universe

Here is a group of paintings where I bind the Universe to familiar things in a way more poetic than literal. So much of space art has been focused on what a viewer might really see from, say, the surface of Mars. I became interested in showing what can never be photographed, only imagined. Inspired by real science, these visual metaphors have a different layer of meaning. The Backbone of Night from COSMOS The !Kung people of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana describe the Milky Way as the "backbone of night". In 1973 Carl Sagan asked me for a painting that he intended to use in an Astronomy 101 textbook he was planning to write. The textbook was never written, but the image appeared as the title graphic for an episode of the television series COSMOS . The Great Chain of Being A view of the Cosmos at many different scales. Atoms are linked to form protein molecules in the tail of an airborne bacteriophage virus. Other viruses are seen against the complex internal architecture of a single-celled diatom, carried across a meadow by a breeze from the sea. Insects and grasses of the meadow overlook an ocean horizon. The setting Sun will reveal stars and the pattern of the Milky Way, our home galaxy. Other galaxies stretch far across the Universe. A human plays guitar in the midst of the Cosmos, celebrating the great chain that links the very large to the very small, with our everyday reality in the middle. Even though we... Read More..