Graffitifying a friend's walls - the constellations above us
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I don't remember the
exact chain of events: did Chris Kemp flatter my ego, asking me to jazz his
Leicester walls up, or did I bamboozle him into letting my imagination run riot
in his house? Either way, I needed something new to paint for him, once I'd
said yes to the project.
Have you ever seen diagrams of the constellations? Evocative drawings built around clusters of stars. Sure you have. Are you convinced that the Plough looks like... well, ... a plough? How about Orion's belt? How can you build a whole Greek god out of a string of stars? With an imagination as vivid as Woody Allen's in The Sleeper, where a whole dead president was reconstructed from the remains of his nose. Why Orion's belt? Why not Orion's watchstrap? Or Orion's braces? Orion's bum-bag? His jockstrap? Does the Big Dipper remind you of a big dipper? No? Me, neither, so join the club. Yet we go along with this codology, and have done for centuries.
This cynicism of mine regarding astronomy suggested a new take on the constellations. They needed updating, in order to be relevant to a modern-day audience. And I was the one to do the updating. The premise is this: if we today were looking at the night sky for the first time, free of contamination from conventional astronomy, what shapes would suggest themselves to us, as we stood in our gardens, squinting through the smog and neon urban glare at those twinkling specs of light?