Interstellar Medium 2020

23.04.20 - 07.04.20

Ellen Barratt & Lewis Andrews

Attempts have been made by scientists to define and label the idea of 'the edge of space’, such as the Kármán line or NASA’s guidelines of 100km above Earth’s mean sea level. But visually, I see our atmosphere gently drift into blackness, a place for wonder in the vastness.

This body of work is a collection of celestial studies in graphite and ink. They highlight the importance of the ‘in-between’ space between the star systems of our universe. Through negative and positive depiction of the universe, this series of drawings brings new importance to the space between the stars.

Interstellar medium is defined as the “matter and radiation that exists in the space between the star systems in a galaxy”. This matter is very dispersed which is an idea I have employed in regard to some of my gradient celestial drawings.

This collaboration between the two of us came about after showing together last November and our shared passion for the night skies and the understanding of interstellar medium, the origins of atoms, stars and supernovae. We have both expressed an interest in collapsing down the distances between the viewer and the most distant objects and events within the cosmos, having conversations about looking out upon the stars, the origins and life cycles and its complete processes.

Lewis speaks about his work: Consider this a moment, in your body there are roughly 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms. Most of these atoms, if not all of them, can be traced back to hearts of supergiant stars billions of years ago. Stars conduct nuclear fusion within their cores during their life cycles. In main sequence stars, like our sun, this mostly involves fusing hydrogen into helium. However, in supergiant stars, the fusion process can produce a huge number of various elements. Helium, Carbon, Oxygen, and Neon to name but a few. When the supergiant finally runs out of fuel, the star dies in an enormous explosion. A supernova. The elements that were created within the core of the supergiant ride the shockwave out into space. Along the way, they collide with other atoms creating more elements. These new elements will eventually go on to form new stars and solar systems. This is how our own sun and the solar system was created. Rough estimates show in fact that the atoms within our own sun could be 3rd or 4th generation atoms. Until then, however, these elements float in the space between the stars. The Interstellar Medium.

You can view more of Lewis' work on his website or instagram.