From Celestial to Cellular Bodies

August 24, 2018

By Mina Zarfsaz


In Star Cluster and Dome of the Sky Deirdre Murphy creates portals in and out multiple universes. Here we see only a portion of migratory star patterns that song birds use in order to navigate. Like every star, every constellation structure has a glow with the fluorescent colors that create an uncanny yet familiar scene for the viewer. Deirdre’s desire to transport the viewers to the outer space and the skies creates these eye-catching views of the patterns of the universe, but also creates a moment for one to self reflect their position in the universe. If you find yourself in front of one of these constellation structures during the day, in combination with your own reflection on the surface of the structure, it may seem as though time and space has a different meaning. Is it you looking at the sky or is the sky looking at you? 


One could imagine the sky as a complex picture of what the universe looks likes. Isolating a small chunk of that complexity can bring a sense of ease in understanding the connectivity of forces and the vastness of the universe; But, it can also create an unsettling feeling in our insignificance in the world. Such dichotomies along with the micro and macro, the day and the night, darkness and lightness, have a huge role in mediating perceptions of reality for us.

Star Cluster and Dome of the Sky (day/night) , Deirdre Murphy,  2018

Putting that insignificance in perspective of the lives we live today, can be refreshing. Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles, 40.5 AU), as part of that day's Family Portrait series of images of the Solar System.


In the photograph, Earth's apparent size is less than a pixel; the planet appears as a tiny dot against the vastness of space, among bands of sunlight reflected by the camera. (Wikipedia)


A deeper understanding of the Pale Blue Dot in Carl Sagan’s own words is that “the Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena… Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. 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. “ (Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994)

Seen from about 6 billion kilometers, Earth appears as a tiny dot (the blueish-white speck approximately halfway down the brown band to the right) within the darkness of deep space.

Deirdre’s current sketches and representations of the bacterial culture at the Integral Molecular take us on a similar journey in a micro level. Finding patterns and constellations in the molecular level taps into our own cosmic presence not thousands of light years away, but very close to home and as close as the surface of our skins. Then every human becomes a celestial body, suddenly weighed down with a cosmic responsibility. 

Deirdre Muphy at Integral Molecular