In 2017, I worked on a collaborative project with student Anna Brooks to do artistic justice to Professor Mark Moldwin's work. This project was the result of a semester-long residency project with the Moldwin Space Lab. The video depicts the beauty and wonder in the protection our magnetic shield provides us. It aims to celebrate and bring awareness to the serendipity of life on Earth. The video employs live puppetry, hand-cut paper and stop motion techniques to create a whimsical animation style that reinforces the tonality of the music. The video depicts the science and beauty behind the northern lights and how they relate to the solar winds.
Our goal was to translate main concepts in the field of space weather in a way that would resonate with people outside the scientific community. As artists, we hope our contributions to the scientific community can inspire interest in scientific literacy and promote understanding of the importance of scientific research.
Aesthetic decisions were motivated by scientific principles. In the first scene, the light represents a free electron from the solar winds colliding with an oxygen atom in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The sequence shown accurately represents how light is released when valence electrons descend energy levels, creating the northern lights. The second scene depicts the shape of the Earth’s magnetic shield as the solar winds pummel it. Immediately after, the video illustrates a coronal mass ejection as it hurdles towards earth. The next scene shows the result of that CME from Earth’s perspective, the Aurora Borealis. The scene pans down to show the churning of the Earth’s core, which creates the magnetic shield. As the scene zooms out from Earth, we hope viewers reflect on the serendipity of life. The lyrics of the song are meant to be a poetic reflection rooted in scientific research.