Sunday, March 03, 2013


Cosmic Address oil on linen 90 x 180 cm 2013

I love the idea of a cosmic address? Prof Joel Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams use this inspirational coupling of words in their book The New Universe and The Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World When I read those two words pictures sprang into my head and 'Cosmic Address' above is one of them.

The notion of a cosmic address propels you to perspectives way beyond your everyday street address, to horizons that make notation of one's country even seem myopic. If we all thought of ourselves as living at a cosmic address how would Earth and humanity be viewed? Just imagine taking yourself from inside your cells to the far reaches of outer space. Imagine viewing Earth from these intimate depths to the fulsome distances of space. These kinds of perspective are potentially full of knowledge, insight and awareness...if we're game to look up from our smartphones!

The video below is from Primack and Abram's website: It uses the age-old transcultural/religious symbol of the ouroboros [snake eating its own tail] as a guage/meter, while taking the viewer on a journey through cosmic scales. Regular readers will know of my interest in the ouroboros. Indeed, it appears in my painting 'Cosmic Address' above. My previous post provides more information on the significance of the ouroboros in my work and as a symbol representing the Universe.

Not only is a cosmic address about a place within the cosmos, but also a time within Universal history. Primack and Abrams make a very incisive argument that humanity is now placed at a pivotal time...a time midway through the life of our sun, the celestial powerhouse maintaining life on Earth. At some point in a few hundred million years the sun, as it builds to its cataclysmic demise, will radiate such heat that human life on Earth will be impossible. Humanity's future is probable extinction. But, the Universe will still continue, our Universal address will still exist albeit changed, but we may not/won't be home, literally or consciously. How can humanity A: ensure that the life of future generations is not made worse by actions and decisions taken now? B: come up with plans to possibly mitigate extinction? C: take advantage of any unexpected opportunities to enhance and/or save life? D: identify risk, even a small one, to Earth and humanity, from afar or from within?

A few days ago I read a great article in AEON online called OMENS: When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see-human extinction or a future among the stars? by Ross Anderson. It is about discussions with Philospher Prof Nick Bostrom, Director of the Future Of Humanity Institute at Oxford University and others from the institute. The discussions are far ranging, but with a common theme, the future of humanity and existential risk. So, there are more and more people out there thinking about humanity's long term future; seriously thinking in time scales that previously were considered fanciful; using science to underpin both apocalyptic and survival possibilities, and understanding that our contemporary actions and decisions can/may affect the balance of these possibilities.

COSMIC ADDRESS Oil on linen 90 x 180 cm
I wanted to create an image that appeared to be both intimate and vast, visceral and cosmic. The ouroboros, its body painted with another age-old transcultursl/religious symbol of the tree-of-life, represents time and scale, yet its circular shape is like a portal, a womb, an eye... The ouroboros seemingly floats in an energised space, that could be outer space or the interior of life's womb. Another tree-of-life grows from an 'horizon', pulsing with life and energy, like blood or those dark forces propelling universal space. The lightning at bottom left is a conduit heralding a new landscape, one untethered from Earth, but one that looks back at the same time as observing all perspective, temporal and spatial.

In order to help us vision our cosmic address I suggest notions of landscape need to be untethered from being Earth-bound. We seem to cling to concepts of Earth-bound landscape that, in terms of geographic locale, somehow indentifies who we are and where we come from...even a sense of ownership. Yet, the future is calling us to consider our 'home' and identity, to not only be derived from locales such as regions, countries, nations or continents, but also as citizens of the Universe. This kind of expanded address-vision surely must help unite humanity to work together to sustain life and the planet for near and far future generations?

For more on untethering landscape check out my post Untethering Landscape


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