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Chad Waples, Cosmic Prism

Temporary Eclipse Installation at the Balloon Museum

Thumbnail image of Cosmic Prism.

Chad Waples
Cosmic Prism
On view October 7-15, 2023

Cosmic Prism was commissioned for the Balloon Museum's activation of the Annular Eclipse on October 14, 2023.

Have you ever stopped to consider the vastness of the universe and the incredible amount of information we can derive from light as it travels through space? As an artist, Chad is fascinated by the phenomenon of light and how it can be used to reveal the secrets of the cosmos.

Humans can only see a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, known as visible light. But the cosmos is alive with wavelengths that are invisible to the naked eye. This is where the science of spectroscopy comes in. By analyzing the light that celestial bodies emit or reflect, astronomers can determine the chemical composition of planets, stars, and other objects in space.

With Cosmic Prism, Chad aims to bring a greater awareness to the study of spectroscopy with a sculpture that evokes the colorful similarities of images produced from telescopes, while highlighting our capabilities of being able to gather compositional data by mapping out these colorful different wavelengths.

When a planet orbits a star, its atmosphere can absorb certain wavelengths of the star's light, leaving gaps or "lines" in the spectrum. These lines correspond to specific elements and molecules, allowing astronomers to determine which ones are present in the planet's atmosphere. This technique is known as absorption spectroscopy. By using spectroscopy to study planets, astronomers can learn about their geology, atmosphere, and even the potential for life. For example, the discovery of water vapor and organic molecules in the atmosphere of Mars was made using spectroscopy, leading to increased interest in the possibility of past or present life on the Red Planet.

Cosmic Prism conceptually celebrates the pivotal role of spectroscopy in astronomy, shedding light on its profound contributions to unraveling the compositional mysteries of celestial bodies within and beyond our solar system. This dynamic installation offers an enchanting experience both day and night. Under the sun's gentle rays, the sculpture's rainbow colors come to life, refracting and shimmering like the diverse wavelengths of light they represent. As day transitions to night, the magic continues, as the multicolor glow-in-the-dark geodesic dome casts an ethereal radiance, inviting viewers to witness the cosmos in a whole new light. Explore the sculpture, discover the captivating world of spectroscopy, and delve into the scientific marvels that unveil the secrets of the universe.

Chad Waples is an artist who fuses both physical and digital media to create interactive art. By pushing the boundaries of traditional methods and embracing contemporary approaches, he strives to create artworks that challenge conventional methods and ignite a sense of wonder.