Thursday, July 10, 2014


Pale Blue Dot [Inspired by Carl Sagan] Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2014
On the 14th February 1990, at Carl Sagan's suggestion, a photograph was taken by Voyager 1 as it left our solar system.
Here's a quote from The Planetary Society website:
As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.
To see the photograph please Google images.
The video above has Carl Sagan speaking about the impact of the photograph. Sagan's words are poetic, marvellous and inspiring. They challenge us to take a perspective of ourselves and Earth that I suspect many still find difficult. Sagan published a book in 1994 called Pale Blue Dot: A Vision Of The Human Future In Space
Many astronauts speak and write about seeing the Earth from afar, in space. The experience shifts their perspective of life. I encourage you to research, but to start with I suggest a visit to the Overview Institute . If you are particularly interested in reading some astronauts quotes please click HERE
Regular readers will know of my interest in perspective! They will also know that I suggest we need to develop skills in seeing multiple perspectives, literal and metaphoric...even simultaneously. Cosmology, the scientific study of the Universe, demands that we look up from our computers and phones, to take in and appreciate, the vast perspectives offered by the close and far distances of the Universe...if not the Multiverse. Our survival, Earth's sustainability...depends on it.
PALE BLUE DOT Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm
So, to my painting Pale Blue Dot. Is this simply my imagined view of Earth in space, from space? Is it some kind of good-bye to Earth, a last wave? Or maybe it is a wishful painting...a view of an imagined new home, another habitable Earth-like planet? Maybe if we could take a photograph of our Universe, it too would look like a dot...this assumes that our Universe is part of a Multiverse? Talk about possible literal perspectives!
But, what do these perspectives shift within us? Like astronauts returning to Earth from space, can we, even if we don't literally fly, develop new appreciations of life by actively and imaginatively engaging with Universal/Multiversal perspectives? As Edgar Mitchell, sixth man on the Moon said, There was a startling recognition that the nature of the universe was not as I had been taught… I not only saw the connectedness, I felt it...
And. as Carl Sagan wrote in his book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision Of The Human Future In Space, It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known. To think that this quote was written twenty years ago, and many of us [individuals and nations] in the name of religion, sense of ownership, economic imperatives etc are still in states of conflict, war...and more! And, as for succeeding in cherishing the planet...well!
And to my current quest, to untether ideas of landscape from Earth-bound horizons. Pale Blue Dot does just that! Like an image of a mountain against a sky, we have an image of Earth [maybe?] against a backdrop of the Universe...or it could be a 'landscape' of the entire Universe against a backdrop of whatever it might be that hosts/sustains multiple Universes. Or it could be something vastly smaller...a drop of water, a piece of dust, an atom...even a thought?
Landscape and perspective are indelibly entwined...both can be taken literally and metaphorically. It's a powerful combination with lessons for us to learn...if we look up and pay attention.
Birth of Landscape oil on linen  138 x 168 cm 2014
solo exhibition
2 - 14 September 2014
To see the exhibition webpage please click HERE
Copyright: Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox

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