The Large and the Small of It

The depths of Space carry miraculous sparks of inspiration at a seeming infinity of levels.digital collage

A couple of years ago my husband was conducting a concert of choral works all, in one way or another, exploring the idea of Space, and he asked me to provide projected images that would act as a visual companion to the music. Since the centerpiece of the concert was to be a selection of movements from Estonian composer/astronomer Urmas Sisask’s ‘Gloria Patri‘–wonderfully meditative, somewhat minimalistic yet still quite melodic music which was to be accompanied by photographs taken through the Hubble telescope, I was given a clear starting point for the collection of visual images. The good people of NASA willingly agreed to let us use any Hubble images we liked, without any constraints and at no charge, so my task was to find the images I thought best suited the music at all points, edit them (some extensively, some less so) in order to fit the format of the projections, and collate all of it into a pre-arranged program that I could manually ‘play’ as the concert was performed. Looking for, and then through, hundreds of Hubble images was a bit of a project in itself; reformatting and resizing, digitally ‘cleaning’ and grouping and ordering them proved to be a little more weighty. But it was a pleasurable and energizing project all the same, staring at the stars and constellations in all of their miraculously varied glory. ‘Gloria Patri’ indeed!digital collageGoing forward to work out images for the rest of the pieces on the docket for this program, I was moved by both the enormity of the Hubble’s scope and our own galaxy’s tininess within the vastness of space to think that it would be wonderful to explore those strange dissonances and harmonies that occur in the known world, microscopic to massive, blurred by our limited vision and knowledge and delicately detailed by our constant finding of new facts and ideas in all of it. So for the other pieces in the concert’s repertoire, I sought out images that would complement each other yet emphasize the astounding range of contrasts in our spatial existence, from the granular to the grand. Pollen and planets might in fact have more in common than we can imagine, if we stretch our thinking just a little. Snowflakes and stars might be merely opposite ends of a spectrum that transcends dimensions, scale and vision.digital collageI was reminded throughout this process not only of my minuteness in the great spectacle of existence, but also of how fantastically treasure-filled that existence is, from the level of the subatomic to things and thoughts so massive that the Hubble telescope and all of its exponentially larger generations of offspring may never quite be able to encompass the enormity of it all. If I ever think I’m running out of ideas, I only need to remember this one exercise in humility and happiness, and I should be able to break out of my stasis as a flood of newly sparked inspirations stream like comets out of me.

10 thoughts on “The Large and the Small of It

  1. Its been a while i havent visit you here bec had a new job. Now i am reading all the post that i missed. Great topic as always kathryN. Cheers!

  2. A beautiful exploration…when you come right down to it, we know as little about Inner Space as Outer…
    As a friend of mine used to remark, on occaision, “What if our entire universe is just a speck on some Giant’s nose?”
    (The response was always, “And what if he sneezes?” 😉 )

    • Now I’m picturing Bill Watterson’s ‘Calvin’ as Spaceman Spiff, riding a giant’s sneezed booger like a rocket into outer space . . . 😉

      Yes, I tend to think we know a whole lot less about *everything* than we think we do! 😀

    • WooHoo! One of the joys of being here in San Francisco just now is that there’s this nice local gallery representing Theodore Geisel, so we had a lovely little re-visit to some of his great and charming work there. Ahhhhhhh. Nothing like a visit to the Doctor to cheer up any day! 🙂

  3. With age comes less knowledge, actual knowledge. Thanks for these images which verify this follower’s affirmation of ignorance and awestruck wonder of the vastness of the universe…

  4. Very interesting, Kathryn…to make us all think how the largeness and smallness of everything is intertwined! Those pictures are fantastic and must’ve complemented the music wonderfully!

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