Anna // For my last project of second year, I created a short astronomy-inspired animation that chronicles the life cycle of a star.

The process of a star’s life cycle is fascinating, beginning with protostars forming in vast nebulae of gas and dust. These grow into a main sequence stars like our sun with orbiting planets and eventually into a red giants. If the star is massive enough, a supernova will occur, an explosion so huge they can be visible from Earth for weeks or months. What remains is a black hole, an impossibly dense region pulling energy and matter into a swirling orbit and consuming it. scan-619

A theme I really wanted to explore within the project was the idea of chaos and order. This is essentially what happens at the birth of a star; a powerful entity is born out of a completely random assortment of matter – space rocks and dust.

With the subject going through so many form changes, with variables including its size, density, temperature, elemental composition, gravitational pull – the possibilities for experimentation in my approach were infinite. Before even beginning to animate, my process involved amassing a large body of mixed media drawings and paintings responding to the various stages in a star’s life. blackgole1

I worked from both modern photographs from sources such as the Hubble space telescope as well as very old constellation maps, drawings and diagrams, trying to capture something of these astronomically huge events.

Inspiration also came from a number of animators, in particular William Kentridge, but also from fine arts painters such as Yayoi Kusama, Helen Frankenthaler and Richard Serra.

set-upTo create the final animation, I devised an unusual approach; working on large pieces of paper with a combination of ink, water and acrylic paint with stones, sand and salt. The piece was animated using a stop-motion technique, for which I built a contraption to hold the paper, camera and two LED flood lights steady. The images were then edited in Photoshop, their colours inverted and put together in Adobe Premiere Pro.

My brother Jacob is a musician and composed the piece of music that accompanies the final animation. I worked quite closely with him on this to make sure that the image and sound were cohesive. scan-9

Although this particular project is finished, I am planning to continue exploring the intersection between art and science – especially physics and astronomy – throughout my third year work.

Instagram // @annacrillustration