Saturday, 12 February 2011

Butterfly | Star Formation

Development work for a project exploring the similarities between natural life-cycles and the formation/death of stars, eventually resulting in the construction of a hand-printed paper 'drum' that simultaneously explores the processes involved in both. The outer layer presents the growth and decay of a butterfly, through which we can observe the corresponding stages of star formation (Printed on the smaller inner layer).

Saturday, 5 February 2011


(Click for full-sized image)

Ignoring the fact that I completely neglect my blog and occassionally forget it exists, here is some preliminary drawings (that may soon become final drawings thanks to my dismissive approach to time/schedules) for my current project. Continuing on from my final year brief, I'm trying to draw parallels between familiar concepts and the world of astronomy. This piece looks as the similarities between the life-cycle of living creatures with the processes and stages involved in the formation of stars. Despite the difference in life-span, (several billion years. give or take) Stars develop in ways that mirror that of organic life, having a distinct birth, infancy, adulthood, old-age and death. These images are trying to convey this by attaching these stages to the corresponding phase in a butterflies natural life-cycle.
To give you a brief overview, Stars are born when huge clouds of interstellar gas called 'nebula' condense and collapse under their own gravitational pull. As the cloud collapses, its core becomes more dense and rapidly heats up. Eventually the gas will ignite and fusion occurs, giving birth to a new star. From here the star will burn for several billion years, using up its fuel and raw materials in the process (Our own sun is about half-way through this process). Over time, the star will start to shed its outer levels as it fuel supply starts to run out and its density decreases. During this phase it will expand to several hundred times it original size and slowly strip off excess materials and gas, eventually leaving a small 'brown dwarf' star burning at its core. (If the stars big enough, it will instead go 'supernova' , releasing all of its energy and materials in a violent explosion) In both cases, the star 'dies' and only remenants of its existance remain. The gas expelled from this process however will then go on to become the raw materials that will eventually condense and ignite the next generation of stars, starting the whole process all over again in a never ending cycle of death and re-birth.
There's really a lot more science about it, but that's a vague attempt at describing the process. It's 02:03am and science/the ability to think is beyond me right now so it's the best I can do under the circumstances.
The concept as a whole is needing tightened up and I'm at a bit of a loose end as to how I can tie the two images/sequences together in a way that's actually relevant, but the visuals seems to be coming along and it's the closest I've come to what feels like my own style in a while so I don't seem to be quite as disenchanted as I ususally am at this stage of a project. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic that I might actually produce work I won't hide at the bottom of my locker/bin/oven this time. good night.