From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio I

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Bubble Chamber, 2006

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 24.8”h x 20”w; Overall: 30”h x 24”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

At the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, scientists accelerate protons toward the speed of light and ram them into each other to study the fundamental building blocks of nature. The collisions produce a host of exotic particles, such as quarks, leptons and muons. These infinitesimally small objects decay rapidly and are only observable by the trails of tiny bubbles they leave in chambers filled with liquid hydrogen. The delicate tracks are captured as they are formed by high-speed cameras before they too quickly dissipate, taking with them the only tangible evidence pointing to the existence of a subatomic world that from our perspective seems as ephemeral as a soap bubble.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio I

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By Design, 2006

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 24.8”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

Invisible forces like gravity or magnetism pose a challenge for illustrators, who often find that dark, wispy lines are the best method of representing their abstract qualities. Philosopher Emmanuel Kant thought that space was filled by an imperceptible ‘œther’ through which planets and comets and other celestial bodies pushed their way, depicted in his drawings as a web-like arrangement of dots. Against this background, a ‘higher organizing order’ is represented by the wire-mesh diagram of an arm and hand - created from a scan of artist Clayton Spada’s limb. Orbiting around the central nebulous sphere, like the rings of Saturn, is an astrological calendar. Such timekeeping devices, while rooted in ancient observations of the night skies, are regarded today as metaphysical artifacts.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio I

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Ecliptic Plane, 2006

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 24.8”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

The ecliptic is the celestial latitude in three-dimensional space in which the planets orbit the Sun. This work explores the systems we create in defining our reality; a geometric explanation of the ecliptic plane shows the relativity of our abstract human constructs when set against more expansive contexts. The background image depicts a small section of outer space mapped by a radio telescope. The spikes represent energy signals rising above background “noise,” intriguingly suggestive of matter that exists where one would expect to find nothing but the void.

  

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio I

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Genesis, 2006

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 24.8”h x 20”w; Overall: 30”h x 24

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

This work, a visual Midrash, or interpretation of scripture, reflects the profound poetry found in the Book of Genesis. The subtle lines in the background of the image chart the decay of subatomic particles—the discovery of which upended the Newtonian world of classical mechanics as surely as the scientific revolution overturned religious-based cosmology. Though science has disproved the biblical timeframe for the age of the universe, there remains plenty of room for rationality and reverence to peacefully coexist 

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio I

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Meditations, 2006

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 24.8”h x 20”w; Overall: 30”h x 24”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

Quantum mechanics is the study of how all matter exists simultaneously as both a wave and a particle. Werner Heisenberg made an important breakthrough in this field with his Principle of Uncertainty, which states that one can only know for sure the position or velocity of a particle, but not both, since the act of measuring one of these parameters will impact the other. As a consequence, the manner in which an inquiry is framed will influence the outcome of the experiment. In their search for transcendence, Tibetan monks enhance their meditations by attempting to draw multitudes of arrows in such a manner that no two share the same orientation, a process akin to mapping out Brownian motion. This can prove to be a difficult undertaking.

  

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio I

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Odyssey, 2006

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 24.8”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

Our ancient ancestors archived their concepts about the world by painting them onto the walls of caves. Millennia later, Albert Einstein chronicled his thoughts about the mysteries of the cosmos on sheets of paper. The famous equation forever linked to his name (E=mc2), which summarizes the relationship between mass, energy, and light, is profound in its simple beauty and powerful in its sense of purpose. How far apart, really, are the Lascaux cave paintings from Einstein’s theory of general relativity? Perhaps not so far at all.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio I

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Pioneer Greeting, 2006

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 24.8”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

NASA launched the Pioneer 10 spacecraft in 1972 with a mission to rendezvous with Jupiter and then head out into deep space. Affixed to the craft is a 6-inch high by 9-inch wide gold anodized aluminum plate designed to inform other intelligent life in the universe about us. The plaque includes representations of a male and female posed against a schematic representation of the space probe, a symbol of a hydrogen atom, a quantized map to aid in identifying the location of our Sun, and a model of our solar system. We can’t be confident that our greeting would be comprehensible as such in the highly unlikely event it should be intercepted. Radio astronomy maps of deep space reveal a topography bursting with activity, though we don’t yet know if the marks of other intelligences are embedded within this celestial cacophony. We can only hope that there’s a chance our message will be received. So, we reach out into the darkness.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio I

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Solar Currents, 2006

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 24.8”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

One of the ongoing questions facing astrophysicists is determining the conditions under which solar systems can form around stars. In 1944, German astronomer C. F. von Weizsäcker formed a hypothesis for the origin of our own solar system. His elegant theory describes how a dust cloud surrounding the Sun broke up into a system of vortices under the compulsion of torrents of photons generated by solar activity. As the energy fields expanded, this whirling mass increased in size and matter coalesced at the boundaries of groups of vortices, leading to the formation of planets. In a very real sense, then, we’re here as the result of a collision between light and dust.

  

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio I

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Space-Time, 2006

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 24.8”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

Prior to Einstein’s formulation of the Theory of Relativity, Newtonian mechanics described astronomical phenomena based on Euclidean space in which time is treated as universally constant. This revelatory theory threw the dependable operations of a clocklike world into disarray by hypothesizing that sufficiently large stellar objects could warp the fabric of space-time. Expanding on the Cartesian coordinate system that describes three-dimensional space; lattice-like cubes careening through a multicolored energy field recede into the distance, referencing the elusive fourth dimension of time.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio I

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Spiral Nebula, 2006

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 24.8”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

The spiral is a recurring geometric pattern found throughout nature - from the shape of a snail’s shell to the structure of galaxies. Spiral motifs abound in this work too: zeroes and ones in the background form a binary mapping of this ubiquitous shape, and two spirals interlock in the center, one free-form, the other generated from a logarithmic curve. The spira mirabalis, or miraculous spiral, is a manifestation of a mathematical foundation that describes a diverse range of phenomena, from the movements of celestial bodies to the growth patterns of individual organisms and entire populations of organisms to the vagaries of the stock market and other human behaviors. The white lines slicing through the image refer to the venerable Golden Ratio, approximately 1:1.618, identified long ago by the Greeks as a harmonic proportion between the length and width of an object.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio 2

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Above Reason, 2009

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 24.8”h x 20”w; Overall: 30”h x 24”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

Science is a system of knowledge concerning the physical world and its phenomena. It is based on empirical observations of the natural world and the conclusions drawn from those observations. Despite this rigorous process of question and analysis, the majority of the world’s population seeks answers to questions that are beyond reason or rationality. Since science cannot provide answers to inquiries of a purely philosophical nature, this quest for existential truth assumes sometimes sublime and sometimes ridiculous proportions. All conclusions, however, are ultimately integrated into a communal understanding that we call the human experience.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio 2

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Aerial Navigation, 2009

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 24.7”h x 20”w; Overall: 30”h x 24”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

In 1783, two brothers named Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier inaugurated the era of human flight with a 3,000-foot high balloon ride over the outskirts of Paris. The following year, fellow Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard invented the dirigible, a steerable ‘lighter-than-air’ craft that was a forerunner to blimps and Zeppelins. The twentieth century saw a boom in aviation, from the 1903 historic flight by the Wright brothers to the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. We are gifted with an inborn penchant to explore despite the perils often associated with reaching beyond our native capabilities. Nature at every level abounds with invitations that stoke this compunction. Even the globe-like crystalline lattice of the silver-bearing mineral stephanite, diagrammed in light blue, is suggestive of a navigational map, 

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio 2

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Beneath the Surface, 2009

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 24.7”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

Devotees of astrology assert that our lives are governed by the positions of the planets and stars in relation to Earth. They also believe the precise location and time of our birth provides the key determination for many of our actions. While scientists reject such claims, there is evidence that suggests our biology and psychology are connected to the broader environment in ways that might seem inscrutable or illogical to our rational senses. Perhaps there is some truth to both viewpoints, though not for reasons we can readily apprehend.

  

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio 2

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Diaspora, 2009

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 24.7”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

Ever since our forebears learned to walk upright in Eastern Africa nearly four million years ago, voluntary or involuntary migration has been a part of our life. A population that has been separated from its ancestral homeland is considered to have undergone a diaspora. Often these people carry their language and cultural traditions with them to their new location. The earliest historical mention of a diaspora is found in Deuteronomy 28:25, in reference to the Jewish colonies settled outside the holy land following the Babylonian exile.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio 2

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Emanations, 2009

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 24.8”h x 20”w; Overall: 30”h x 24”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

The universe is filled with a very faint glow of radio waves that astronomers believe are the fingerprints from the Big Bang. For some time after this cataclysmic event, all of space was filled with light. Over eons, these photons, while still observable, have grown steadily fainter, leading scientists to dub it “relic radiation.” Japanese tradition holds that anyone who bathes in the energy of the multi-limbed deity Quanwon will vibrate in harmony with the universe and experience a less complicated life.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio 2

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Final Causes, 2009

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 25”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

The earliest illustrations by humans on cave walls were likely made from directly observable phenomena. The Egyptians made a conceptual leap with their ability to artistically represent abstract ideas, such as their pantheon of gods. Before the scientific revolution began around 1500, priests, astrologers, alchemists, and philosophers all claimed to have the answers to the workings of the universe. One might argue that in illustrations of real or imagined experiences one can find a broader understanding of the natural world and the final causes of all things.

  

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio 2

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The Journey, 2009

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 24.8”h x 20”w; Overall: 30”h x 24”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

In this work, a running human figure from an aboriginal petroglyph is situated within an illustration depicting planetary phases relative to the Sun. Like us, he is on a journey through life, pulled along as if attached to a puppeteer’s strings. In the background can be seen characters from a pictographic script invented by a European missionary who sought to translate the Bible into the language of the Micmac, a large Native American tribe that lived in Canada and the Northeast United States. Whether by intention or coincidence, the characters bear a structural similarity to Egyptian hieroglyphics. In the end, this impressive intellectual effort proved largely unsuccessful in pulling the Micmac away from its established system of beliefs.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio 2

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Origins, 2009

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 24.7”h x 20”w; Overall: 30”h x 24”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

The question of how the universe came into being is addressed in nearly every world religion. Some Taoists believe a creator god broke forth from the Cosmic Egg, spilling forth light and darkness, expressed graphically as the yin-yang symbol. Numerous other creation myths posit an omnipotent being as an architect of all existence. Many physicists such as Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, and Stephen Hawking have worked on establishing an ambitious “grand theory of everything” that would unify the fields of electromagnetism, space-time, the nuclear forces, and gravity.

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio 2

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Problema X, 2009

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 20”h x 24.9”w; Overall: 24”h x 30”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

Much advanced scientific work in the past few decades has been focused on macrocosmic questions about the underlying structure of the universe, such as how it all came into being and what our ultimate fate might be. While the three-dimensional world we can observe seems governed by established physical laws, such equations break down in the face of infinitesimally small objects like quarks or infinitely powerful ones like black holes. In the end, one must ask how much do we really know about the universe and how reliable can our perceptions be?

  

From Zero to Infinity - Portfolio 2

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Tree of Life, 2009

Victor Raphael & Clayton Spada

Image: 24.7”h x 20”w; Overall: 30”h x 24”w

Pigment inks on watercolor paper (inkjet print)

Synopsis:

For millennia, trees have served both as objects of worship and as symbols of fertility, knowledge, and enlightenment. Some cultures believe a World Tree connects the Earth to the heavens. A representation of a tree is used in genealogy to distinguish familial relationships and in biology to group animals into related units. Intriguingly, the scientists who first employed this arboreal motif may have been on to something. When greatly magnified, the twisted helical structure of the DNA molecule, which carries our genetic identity, appears to have the solidity of a tree trunk.