The Pale Blue Dot

One of the most meaningful things I’ve every read, is the the speech given by Carl Sagan in 1994 as they turned the Voyager camera around and pointed it at a pale speck of earth. In the vastness of space, every viewer of that image was confronted with a glimpse of our fragility in the cosmos.  

I wanted this piece of work to reflect this by using the speech as text that personified humanity in all its forms, and how dependent we are on one another for our survival in the Universe.

Sagan’s 1994 speech reads as follows:

Look at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.  On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joys and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, and hopeful child. Every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner, in the history of our species lived there on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

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. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The earth is the only world known so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the earth is where we make our stand.

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.

 

I created several collagraph prints to play with color and texture, aware that I would eventually have to write on the paper.

 

Then came the lettering.  I had intended to use an alphabet  that I created a few years ago, and practiced it many times within the confines of the circle.

 

 

I like the look until I reproduced it on the print.  The color faded into the print and the lettering looked stiff.

I practiced the lettering in a loose script which created movement.  After painting a 10 x 10 canvas black, I mounted the earth in the center then varnished several times.

 

 

Finished painting!