Out Of This World

If the purpose of art is to reveal the mystery and wonder of our existence, nothing quite captures our attention than the secrets and findings of our vast universe. Science has influenced art like never before, with astronomy leading this cultural revolution and giving us visual wonders of galaxies, stars, planets and the undiscovered secrets of the cosmos. Even before Galileo first pointed a telescope at the moon and published his own drawings of his sightings in 1610, astronomy has been the science of visual incitements.

And, with so many mind blowing scientific discoveries, it is no shock how it has become an artistic inspiration throughout history. In 1912, Proxima Centauri (the nearest star to earth – excluding the Sun) was discovered; in 1920, Clyde Tombaugh identified everyone’s favourite little dwarf planet, Pluto; in 1958 NASA was founded and in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to set foot on the surface of the moon. Really, how could these achievements and discoveries not influence our visionary creations?

Particularly when the contemplation of human existence has been a focus of artistic interpretation for as long as can be humanly documented. Evidence of artistic creations of the cosmos can even be found dating as far back as 16,500 B.C, with the earliest images of constellations appearing in the renowned cave paintings in Lascaux, France and Cuevadel Castillo, Spain. So it seems science and the enticement of the unknown has always captured the hearts of artists. Though, digital images of the universe really became a phenomenon in 1995, when it is said that scientists themselves created art through their discoveries. The Hubble Space Telescope was a revolutionary, unmanned orbital observatory and was originally launched by Nasa in 1990, but it was a failure to begin with, as the images were blurry and unusable.However, the improved space shuttle came to the rescue with installed correcting lenses, and the images that were retrieved where stunning (in that, they both stunned and were stunning).

The crowning glory of this shuttle was a picture that showed the Eagle Nebula, which can be found in the constellation Serpens and is 7000 light years away from Earth. Even to this day, it is considered a true work of art. The image was officially released by NASA and was poetically titled ‘The Pillars of Creation’, and triggered an overwhelming public response. Thus a myriad of celestial scenes capture the art world even today. And is it any wonder? As what can be more creative than exploring the infinite and etherial universe that lies beyond what we know?

Does the cosmic unknown inspire you?

The Eagle Nebula: Hubble Telescope image named ‘The Pillars of Creation’

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