Art and Space - Recipe for a Star

RECIPE FOR A STAR: THE INTERSTELLAR MEDIUM AND THE SUPERNOVA FEEDBACK LOOP (2016)

Series of hydrogen-tea-towels

space dust, mostly 100% cotton

By Pam McKinlay and Christine Keller with David Hutchinson and Ian Griffin

Thousands of years ago our relationship with the macrocosm and microcosm was an intimate experience and the stars were our guide. Today we have lost touch with the Milky-way and are preoccupied with the mundane. In these tea towels we consider a new spaciographic iconography which acknowledges the enormity of space and the humbleness of our personal existence. They tell a story by presenting the big picture data but in an unassuming domestic guise. Ultimately everything we know, including ourselves, is made of space dust.

The full text from the exhibition catalogue:

Space is a living entity, from the big-Time feedback loop of stars to life on our own planet. In amongst the chaos of the interstellar medium (ISM) we find star nurseries in the cloudy regions of nebulae when portions of the ISM undergo gravitational collapse. The interstellar medium of nebulae contain ~1% ‘dust’, matter from exploded supernovae and are composed mostly of Hydrogen gas in one form or another. This is confirmed by spectral analysis in both the emitted and absorption spectrums. The Balmer emitted spectrum shows the spectral series of lines in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum (from red to ultraviolet). Hydrogen can also be detected by radio astronomy when it experiences a “spin-flip” transition due to an atomic collision, whereupon it emits at a wavelength of 21.1 cm (frequency = 1420.4 MHz). As a consequence this radiation is called the 21 cm line. The 21cm line has become the best way to map the structure of the Galaxy. Thousands of years ago our relationship with the macrocosm and microcosm was an intimate experience and the stars were our guide. Today we have lost touch with the Milky-way and are preoccupied with the mundane. In these tea towels we consider a new spaciographic iconography which acknowledges the enormity of space and the humbleness of our personal existence. They tell a story by presenting the big picture data but in an unassuming domestic guise. Ultimately everything we know, including ourselves, is made of space dust.