[This is a guest post by Chris Petersen*, about his infographic project “The Faceted Planets”.]
‘The Faceted Planets’ is a series of digitally-illustrated, infographic art prints inspired by planetary science and the need for continued space exploration. It began as a design experiment to test a new vector art application. I recently stumbled upon a great piece of programming genius called “I ♥ ∆” (http://somestuff.ru/I). The basic purpose of the software is to convert a raster image into a series of low poly shapes which automatically adjust their color by sampling and calculating the average of that which they overlay. There is great flexibility and control within the software as you can add or subtract key points to change the complexity of the geometry while influencing color shifts to your advantage; creating a unique and very modern vector illustration.
What is the purpose of a thing if you have no defined goal?
As I have a strong connection with astronomy and planetary science, one of my first tests was on a photo of the planet Mars. After tinkering with the image for ages, I was left with a visually interesting piece of art that had no real purpose. I thought a lot about how to integrate the artwork into something larger and more informative; a dynamic graphic which could work as a standalone piece or as a companion to a much larger set.
The first step is establishing interest is defining context.
I made my way to Wikipedia and scanned for unique information which I could pair with the faceted globe. Intrigued by a section detailing the various probes which have visited Mars in the past decades, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to represent the planets in our solar system as jewels in the night; waiting to be studied and celebrated as unique, irreplaceable gems.” I discovered quite a lot of history about the successes and failures of our various space programs. I was especially surprised to see the intense launch rivalry that played out in the ‘60s and ’70 between the USA and Russia.
Omission creates the opportunity for reflection and discovery.
While the inner planets have received a great many visitors from Earth, there have been scant few missions exploring the outer planets. When developing Saturn and beyond, I decided to include a header of scaled icons representing each planet’s major satellites as well as a cross-section of the solar system for the footer. As this gulf of data continued to grow, I was confronted with the realization that we haven’t come nearly far enough in our exploration of the solar system. I was aware that there were no dedicated missions to the ice giants and Pluto, but I had no idea how few probes have even glimpsed these worlds. It’s my hope that the these stark portraits of exploration will inspire people to question why we don’t invested more in discovery.
It gives me great joy to be able to tell the story of our first steps outside the comfort of our pale blue dot, through modern, geometric art that is both visually interesting and hopefully thought-provoking.
*Chris Petersen is a graphic designer who graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design. A self-professed geek of all trades, he has spent the last 8 years working professionally as a freelance graphic designer and digital art specialist. Through it all, his greatest joy is being able to share his unique perspective with the world through art. You can connect with him on Behance and Twitter (@theGeekerie).