Outer Space Comes to Winter Olympics

Professor Presents Perspective on Space

"We Are Stardust" heat-sensing camera screen.

The Winter Olympics are about more than just sports, apparently. At this year’s winter games in Vancouver, UCSB arts and media professor George Legrady will be displaying his most recent project: a set of cameras that mimic actual observations from space.

Titled We Are Stardust, Legrady’s presentation is part of CODE Live, an 18-day event (February 4-February 21) that eschews typical Olympic activities in favor of visual art and musical performances. Together with UCSB doctoral student Javier Villegas, Legrady fashioned a two-screen projective device that depicts the 36,034 observations made by NASA’s own Spitzer Space Telescope, which orbited Earth from 2003 to 2008.

"We Are Stardust" observation sequence screen.

In the gallery where the exhibition is located, one screen reenacts the Spitzer’s actual movements, using an infrared camera. That same screen also allows the gallery visitors to view themselves thermally, their presence in the gallery detected by the camera and then projected onto the screen. The second camera provides visitors with an animated look at how the universe came about, as well as a map of the universe and various stars��� locations throughout.

Legrady, who has twice been to Vancouver to install and assemble the exhibition, believes the project to be an opportunity to “consider our relationship to both local and deep space, and how we conceptualize and situate ourselves in relation to such space.”

As for the exhibition’s title, Legrady cites the Spitzer as inspiration, given its ability to look at dust. “Everything is made of stardust—human, vegetable, everything. The study of stars is a study of culture,” Legrady said.


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