Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reflective Sphere of Influence

Shiny chrome-like objects were the fashion in space art for decades, and they also are a challenge to the traditional artist, how to render the reflections on a curved mirror surface. I was challenged by this problem. I collected many high-shine chrome reflective objects, trying to have a reference. This included Chinese juggling balls, hollow steel which had a jingly thing inside, plated in chrome. I used one of these curios for the main sphere in this picture.

I was also intrigued by the philosophical idea of identity and multiplicity. Can an object be considered one thing if it is actually composed of many fragmentary things held together by gravity or magnetism or whatever? How would such an object work in space? Is it necessary to have one's space station or spacecraft in one large complex form, or can you have a swarm of smaller forms, communicating by electromagnetism? Suppose the central sphere is the power generator, and the orbiting fragments the working bits of the spacecraft. Could this be practical?

I was thinking of all those things while I composed this tiny picture. I also wanted to use a background color different from my usual reds and blues. A fellow artist of that time was fond of a kind of magenta pink called "quinacridone," so I decided I'd use that color in the background in a tribute to him. The title of the picture is "Sphere of Influence," referring to the artificial gravity which holds these fragments in orbit around the center. There is also an artificial repellant force which keeps them from smashing into each other. I think that this would be populated by a very non-human, though technologically advanced, colony of aliens.

"Sphere of Influence" is acrylic on illustration board, 10" x 7", March 1988.


Anonymous said...

This work is new to me. It does remind me of the 'river of commercial goods' spoken of in Star Trek by the Ferrengi. Could this be some island in this river?

Tristan Alexander said...

Wow! This almost looks digital but isn't! Great job. I know how hard trying to do the metal reflective thing is and to do the objects floating around it reflected is REALLY hard!!