What is Space Art?

What is Space Art?

Part 1. Genre DEFINITION with expanded definition –

‘Space Art’ / ‘Astronomical Art’ 

Space Art
Definition; “Space Art” is a genre of artistic expression that references knowledge of and an interest in the universe.

Expanded; Many subjects, with many methods and styles, representational as well as subjective, exist within the field of Space Art, of which “Astronomical Art” is a large part. Space Art themes often depict human presence in space, seen in historic, imagined, or futuristic contexts. Space Art subjects are variable and loosely constrained. This includes space exploration and humanity’s expansion into the Solar System, images of space hardware designs that enable space travel, and human research that explores distant worlds where life may have evolved or the potential for settlement and resource utilization may exist. 

Astronomical Art
Definition; “Astronomical Art” is an important subset of Space Art that takes inspiration specifically from astronomical subjects, and creates a scientifically grounded description of space.

Expanded; Astronomical Art primarily owes its inspiration to the growing heritage of scientific knowledge and imagery of the physical universe, often applied to deep space as well as solar system subjects. This mainly representational genre usually uses related knowledge as the starting point of whatever results. Astronomical Art draws from the visual potential found in the Solar System, planets and moons for example, as well as stars and galaxies, and events from across vast stretches of time.

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Part 2. GENRE and STYLE in the IAAA

Genre refers to the category of subject matter that composes the IAAA; Space Art and Astronomical Art would be the main categories that describe the genre of the IAAA.

Genre Definitions include Space Art and Astronomical Art

Style refers to the use of individual artists’ linear and painterly methods of representation as defined in several interrelated factors such as the elements and principles of artistic design, and for example, relates to how an artist describes humans or animals, portrays a landscape, organizes patterns, images, or manipulates shapes and forms. Some artists evolve over time and may develop a style that is unique, especially with the use of modern technology.

Style TERMS include Descriptive Realism, Cosmic Expressionism, Hardware Art, Space Sculpture, Cosmic Zoolology, Astronomical Photography, “Art in Space”, Hard Science Fiction Space Art, VR Space Image Production

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Part 3. DISCUSSION – ‘What is Space Art?’  

1. Space Art
Space Art is a general term for art emerging from knowledge and ideas associated with outer space, both as a source of inspiration and as a means for visualizing and promoting space travel and exploration.

Whatever the stylistic path, the artist is generally attempting to communicate ideas that are related to space, with an appreciation for the infinite variety of concepts inspired by the vastness of space that surrounds us.

The Cosmos contains many sources of visual inspiration that our growing abilities to gather and propagate have spread through mass culture. Images such as the Earth-rise over the Moon from Apollo 8, the ‘Pale Blue Dot’ returned to Earth by Voyager 1, and the ‘Pillars of Creation’ from Hubble, have been widely circulated and incorporated into popular culture.

Such images give modern audiences fresh visions through which the religious awe evoked by the great murals in cathedrals of earlier centuries can be experienced anew. Artists are emerging who express what the concepts of space mean to them and even daring to anticipate what sights may reward our future explorations.

2. Astronomical Art
‘Astronomical Art’ is largely an outgrowth of the artistic standards of Rudaux, Bonsetell, Pesek, and others of that era. It is an aspect of space art where the primary emphasis is on giving the viewer visual impressions of alien and exotic places in the Cosmos.

As an Astronomical artist, one should have a sense of and regard for why lighting, sky, color, and even the chosen landscape surroundings appear as they do, and how a drastic change in a specific condition, as may be found on other worlds, could dramatically alter the scenes. One should have a reasonable ‘grounding’ in science, the nature of the sky and weather, and Geology for knowing the Earth, as well as Astronomy for knowing the heavens. Astronomy-related knowledge, in particular, helps set the stage for related portrayals. Such artists, with their tradition of visualization of exotic realities, contribute a major aspect of what can be called Space Art.

‘Space Art’ is of course an expressive, looser, and more subjective term, with the range of what it encompasses ’nebulously’ constrained. One might hope work can recognizably show its association with the general subject, but in the end, it is an artist trying to communicate subjective expressions and ideas through their work.

3. The Future of Space Art
If and when artists finally get to live and play in zero gravity conditions as part of a hopeful migration of Humanity beyond Earth, artistic expressions unknowable today will emerge.  Although such dreams await substantial opportunity, early efforts by artists to have art pieces placed in space have already been accomplished with both paintings and sculpture. As media evolves and new discoveries are made, artists will adopt new tools for new realms of expression with proliferating inspiration.

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DESCRIPTIVE REALISM (aka “Rocks and Balls”)
Descriptive Realism is a style of Space Art and the direct inheritor of the artistic standards of Lucien Rudaux, Chelsey Bonsetell, and Ludek Pesek. Its primary emphasis is to show a viewer a scientifically accurate visual depiction of distant places in the Cosmos.

Space Artworks in the Cosmic Expressionism style, akin to works done in the POST- Impressionist era, use color, shape, and form to give a viewer the artist’s impression of the image subject matter without trying to be technically accurate and highly detailed, but adhering to general artistic principles. Despite being looser, the subject matter is still clearly inspired by space. The terms Cosmic Expressionism and Swirly Art, both describe the same style the artist demonstrates with creating visual examples of astronomical or space art.

A subcatergory of Swirly that is expressed in a variety of media to portray the infinite realm of the universe, characterized by unique imagery and incongruent juxtaposition of subject matter to create fantasy.

HARDWARE ART (aka “Nuts and Bolts”) 
Hardware Art is usually similar to Descriptive Realism but focuses on the detailed depiction of the hardware of spaceships, probes, and equipment used in a space setting.  The hardware depicted in these images can range from a “portrait” of an existing piece of hardware to a creative, never-seen-or-thought-of, industrial design based upon sound scientific and engineering principles.

Astronomical photography is a form of extraterrestrial photography,that may also include terrestrial elements, where a photograph of an astronomical subject is deliberately “created” to place aesthetic value over scientific value. Skills require aesthetic decisions, and technological know-how, while an individual application of exposure and processing can bring a distinct ‘look, ‘ the significant ‘art’ in astrophotography.

Works of Space Sculpture are more challenging to recognize. This is because they are unusually more symbolic or abstract, like a rocket shape, stained glass windows representing stellar objects, or a sculptured work explicitly designed for zero gravity display. However, the prime inspiration for Space Art’s three-dimensional works is the same other style, space itself.

Though the question of other life in the universe has yet to be answered, artists can speculate about it and imagine the possibilities. Cosmic Zoology is the depiction of extraterrestrial life in extraterrestrial settings.

This term describes another genre or artistic creation that uses those conditions and the environment of space itself as part of its media, such as art created in free-fall, zero-gee sculpture, orbital plasma gas displays, and similar media. However, any art form in space ought NOT to conflict with placing “lights” into the sky that obstructs the visual view of the heavens from the surface of the Earth.

Hard Science Fiction Space Art applies scientific knowledge, principles, and tools to artistically visualize what lies beyond our planet, past, present, and future, and where fictional stories and characters are embedded in a challenging science/engineering setting, not in fictional science. This follows the original intent as defined by the great writers and master authors such as Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, and Niven.

Creating VR imagery is just an extension of digital art, and the IAAA ought to include it in our definition set. VR is most definitely a visual medium! A few IAAA artists already produce 360×360 graphical images. They are digital works of art produced in much larger files that must be viewed through specialized equipment, VR goggles. The field of VR is just beginning to explode, and we need to stake an IAAA position as the primary source of astronomical VR image production now before someone else does. (edited) 

The computer is just another medium. It can be used to sketch just as one does with pencil and paper. And with paper and pencil one can also create a beautiful artwork with the talent, skill, and knowledge to do so. Digital work is the same. It isn’t pressing a single button and a tree appears, it’s about painting and drawing, cutting and pasting, masking, layering, utilizing an infinite color palette, sculpting, manipulating, making a massive amount of decisions, problem solving, and with some programs writing in another language in a way that is nuanced and a result of multitudes of hours of learning. To create something compelling on the computer takes the same level of creativity and dedication that it takes to create a compelling sculpture. And whether you’re using a stylus or a mouse, it’s still the hand that is pushing and pulling, adding and subtracting…just as with a brush or a pen. (M. Weiss)

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