Artist Statement by Roger Ferragallo


Roger at 90
Photo credit: John Kristoff

Cosmic Reveries: Moonchild into World War 2

Roger as a babyI tell a story of night, moonlight and a milky way sky.  As a young child in the early 1920's, I was mesmerized by the beauty of starlight sky in smog-less, backwater Mill Valley. Yearning for a telescope with none to be had, I strained to see the moon enlarged through a chip of broken glass.  It was fortunate for me the town library had a wonderful old antique stereoscope with a large collection of stereoscopic cards I enjoyed for many years, one of which showed the moon in 3D.  My Immigrant father was dying of tuberculosis when I was about a year old and we  found ourselves destitute throughout the depression years.  My mother had only recently arrived in 1922 from Italy and by necessity worked at menial jobs as did my older brother who quit school and labored to make due.  I began working at age 6 and was the newsboy town-crier for years, selling the daily newspaper - the 3 cent, San  Francisco Call Bulletin (today's Chronicle). Later, through my teens, I supervised the Mill Valley paper delivery system until age 18 when World War 2 broke out in 1942 and enlisted immediately in the Army Air Force.

During my childhood, I found much solace in embracing Catholicism and also discovering the town library as if a second home. I drew the attention of the motherly librarian who supplied me with pencil and paper; having praised my pencil drawings copied from pictures I found in books. But it was the library stereoscope that drew my attention. The experience of viewing through a stereoscope was a reality window to the world and found it magical to view three-dimensional spatial landscapes, cityscapes, animal life and people from around the world. When I discovered the moonscape stereo card I was transfixed by the 3-D reality of the moon. It was pure phantasm for a child who lived in a cosmism of imagination, curiosity and wishful realities of the larger world.

My interest in space fascinated me. I've never forgotten my first of many (age 7) hikes from downtown Mill Valley to the top of beautiful Mt. Tamalpais (2,375 ft.) where I could actually feel the visceral perspective of being high on a mountain top looking south to far away Sausalito and beyond to San Francisco: east and north to Oakland and San Rafael; west to the redwood forest and beyond to the Pacific Ocean. I would often sit on a rock peering down the shoulders of the mountain to the little village, where I was born.



The famous old Mill Valley steam train (Ripley's Crookedest Railroad in the World) was still chugging from downtown to the very top of Mt Tamalpais, but infrequently because it was near it's end (the great fire in 1928 destroyed the railroad). Today one drives to the top of the mountain on the paved road over the old winding railroad tracks. I hiked the mountain for years throughout my teens, realizing later, how both the stereoscopic spatial reality seen through a stereoscope affixed to both my eyes as a young boy correlated with the mountain climbing vistas of distant deep space.

Army Air Force: An unlikely adventure in Stereoscopic Space

Iwo JimaMy interest in the immensity of 3-D space would fascinate me indelibly throughout my life. This carried over to a time, stateside in 1942-3, during World War 2, when I found myself teaching the art of camouflage to Army Air Force troops in California, Nevada and Utah. In so doing, part of this instruction involved soldiers looking through a stereoscope at aerial photo stereo pairs of concealed weaponry. At the time, I was astonished to discover I could free view with cross-sight the stereoscopic photos without the aid of a double lens stereoscope (later in life a powerful aesthetic in my painting). I also used Polaroid aerial stereo-vectographs that required Polaroid glasses to achieve deep space stereopsis. After teaching more than a year, I opted for duty overseas and departed for Hawaii in April, 1944 to join the 3 Squardron, 21st Fighter Group (P-51 aircraft) as a combat intelligence Technical Sergeant.

Iwo Jima 1944-45 In 1944

Iwo JimaIn the midst of my Intelligence duties at the Mokuleia Airbase in northern Oahu, Hawaii, I was chosen to depart ahead of the 21st Fighter Group personnel and pilots to join an Air Force Army advance echelon 200 man group without any of us knowing the secret destination within the Asian theater. After 62 days at sea, passing momentarily at the Dateline, Antewietok, and Saipan, we arrived at Iwo Jima on February 22nd 1945 (the Marine invasion began on Feb 19, 1945). When the Marines secured the Sothern Mt. Suribachi site, we debarked the troop ship, Sea Runner, on March 2nd, climbing down a rope ladder into a landing craft with sounds of heavy fire everywhere. We marched a half mile in pouring rain and with my 3 comrades, dug a deep fox hole into Iwo's black sand at the foot of Mt. Suribachi; all the while the battle raged to secure two nearby airfield runways to the north.

Iwo JimaThe 21st Fighter Group pilots and remaining 600 Group air support personnel would arrive later in March to the Air Fighter Group north airfield tent encampment we had come earlier to prepare. By March 23, with the Motoyama airfield and tent camp secured, our pilots arrived and settled in. The remaining personnel had arrived on their troop ship on March 26. They did not debark because on that very day, terrifying hell struck our tent encampment. A band of 400 Banzai enemy who had lay hidden in nearby caves ferociously targeted our tents with swords, grenades and heavy gunfire just before dawn! Awakened from sleep, none of us in our tent (4 of us) realized what was happening until this became a deadly combat reality. One from our tent was severely wounded and those of us who survived were fortunate because the person to person fighting raged on throughout dawn until late morning. I found myself with two friendly Marine brothers, one of the brothers was beside me and was killed instantly as we were returning fire. The heartbreak is that the brothers were to leave Iwo the next day! We lost 23 men, many were pilots, with many injured. I served as a young Sergeant Major (age 22) until I departed Iwo Jima on a Navy Cruiser in the Fall, 1945 bound for San Francisco.

1946, The G.I. Bill and School of the Art Institute of Chicago

My interest in an art of light was rooted in my experience in Chicago where I was a G.I. Bill student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1946-1953). When I arrived at the Institute it was a thrilling experience to daily pass Museum galleries laden with so much great world art. I worked, part time, daily at the Museum throughout my 7 years at the Museum and school. To both work and study within such a richly endowed world class Museum and art environment was inspirational. Early on, I was struck by the light-space sculptures and collages found in the museum galleries by visionary artist-educator, Laszlo Moholy Nagy (Bauhaus fame, Germany 1920-30).


Genesis of my interest in An Art of Light
Nagy had authored a book, "Vision In Motion" that impressed me profoundly as I began my studies. His influence led me to acquire a 16mm Bolex film camera I tagged a 'light machine', that resulted in my producing films in Chicago, notably, "63rd Street-Chicago" (1950)  I also often frequented the Art Institute Library archives and discovered a remarkable book that further aroused my interest in a pure light aesthetic by, Adrian B. Klein, titled: "Colour-Music The Art of Light (1926). Klein's book is the most comprehensive history of light pioneers ever published on this subject. He references the ultimate light pioneer, Thomas Wilfred, commenting, "presenting an art of light there is something to be said for this notion of space in which moves this drama of rhythmic shapes, this mysterious world of infinitely modulated tones, coming and going, spreading and will depend on the nature of the keyboard controls and the type of color music favored by Wilfred."


Wilfred with ClaviluxI had the pleasure of personally meeting the renowned 'Art of Light' pioneer, Thomas Wilfred in 1952 when he came to the Art Institute to give an astonishing Lumia projection demonstration on a large screen done with a portable projection device.  I had the opportunity to meet him and discuss my 1950 Chicago film as a work of light.  Wilfred graciously invited me to meet him, the following day, to tour his Chicago Sherman Hotel Clavilux Organ installation from the 1920's (I had no idea existed). Wilfred walked me upstairs to a control room that looked down on a massive oval ballroom surrounded by a colossal 150 foot surround screen.  He proceeded to play his large Clavilux system at his keyboard as if an organist!  I was astounded when the entire screen was suddenly flooded with pure light and color forms--all in motion.  I felt an air of silent mystique as he presented his remarkable color-form Opus performance of undulating, changing and fusing luminal surreal forms and shapes that majestically encircled the entire oval screen.  It was breathtaking, life changing and blew my mind.

Wilfred, in 1920, coined the term "lumia" to describe "an eighth art" where light would stand on its own as an expressive art form and be a silent art.

He left me with plans to build a Lumia portable machine I would later construct and utilize in San Francisco, at a time I served as scenic designer and modern dance film producer for the San Francisco Contemporary Dancers (1958-1964). I made use of the Wilfred portable Lumia machine for scene designs which was particularly effective for the special regional San Francisco production of "Motion, Image & Form;" I contributed the title and co-produced this monumental event with choreographer-founder, J. Marks.

Concurrent with my Art of Light interest, my on-going art and academic studies at the Art Institute were steadily shaping an equally intense interest in the sciences, cosmology and philosophy.  Important to these pursuits, I found two seminal books at the Art Institute Library that I visited with great frequency and eventually gifted to me by a sympathetic librarian.  

The books were foundational and would set me forever on my cosmic journey: namely, "The Curves of Life- (-An Account of Spiral Formations And Their Application to Growth in Nature" (To Science And to Art & Life--with special reference to the manuscripts of Leonardo Da Vinci) by Theodore A. Cook (1914).

Curves of Life


 The second seminal book was titled, "On Growth And Form", D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, 1942 Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition. It showed the foundations on which art is built, and physical laws that cover the types of shape which living things assume.

Growth and Form


Digital revolution- Painting with light

With my Light Box

The advent of the computer in the mid 80's was an unexpected happening that took me by  surprise.  Here was the light aesthetic I so yearned for:  I could now apply a digital photonic Art of Light to the long sought dream to paint with light.  I immediately recognized that electronic light is emissive and thus conducive to the cosmic concepts and themes I harbored to express.  Furthermore, computers in all shapes and sizes began appearing in the market place and I did not wait long to embrace my first desktop system in 1988 that came as a complete package, with its own screen monitor.  I immediately tagged it a 'light generator in a box'.  

The system came with software that possessed a palette of photonic emissive color in millions of variations, hues and shades with tool facilitators that would come as a flood throughout the late 80's and 90's.  At the start, I gravitated to the affordable IBM and Microsoft PC's because they employed large screen monitors as opposed to the Apple smaller monitors. The PC DOS operating system and early software were daunting but they enabled me to eventually paint with luminal shimmering geometries and lustrous multi-color glowing forms. The freedom to circum-zoom-pan within the space of a gleaming photonic screen led me to create expressive cosmic concepts to plumb the mysteries of universe, evolution, life and nature in a medium of pure light.

Approaching the late 80's into early 90's, I decided my first group of digital paintings would make use of the familiar stereoscopic space aesthetic I had pioneered throughout the early 1970's.  In 1972, my traditional medium was acrylic on canvas.  At the time, I proceeded with a unique group of very large, cross-free-vision stereoscopic acrylic canvases, announcing a new stereoscopic art was at hand: "A Manifesto Directed to the New Aesthetics of Stereo Space in the Art of Painting"   

Thus in 1988, it was tenable to tackle my first small digital paintings with the limited software available at the time. I utilized an attractive software program called "Targa Tips" that permitted me to create a series of paintings based on geometries. I found this software suitable to produce a digital stereoscopic series via 3D, free-cross-vision I had in the 1970's mastered. With great excitement I fashioned my first digital cosmic themes by constructing 3D geometric figures, rendering them in a variety of creative shapes and forms with a palette of 16 million gradations of stunning brilliant colored light. I would go on to complete more than a dozen cosmic paintings within the context of stereoscopic 3-D space!

A New Luminal Paradigm at the Millennium

Nove Genesis 1994
Nova Genesis, 1994.

Approaching the millennium was an invigorating time fraught with new powerful desktop computer technologies and software rapidly arriving in the market place. So too, larger screens began to appear yielding fountains of lush colors and shades with eye-catching higher pixel resolutions. Painter friendly software also emerged with myriad new brush and construction tools that catered to painters. Specialized print shops emerged everywhere that could faithfully print large digital color paintings to canvas and other substrates. This inspired me to step away from the earlier small size, limited geometrized stereoscopic digital 'space' aesthetic that served me well. I could now move on to creating larger cosmic works to be printed to canvas and other substrates with framing if needed. Computers became ever more robust and at a time like no other! It was breathtaking to have new digital tools that could take on larger scaled 'painterly' expressionist and surreal cosmic works with the maturing newborn art of light! (Thomas Wilfred would have been pleased!)

Indeed, a new aesthetic was unquestionably at hand:  a new-found millennial paradigm of digital space and photonic light had arrived with stunning effect.  I found electronic screens offered a captivating aesthetic that was intensely engaging.  Here was a vibrant screen that issued emissive photonic light, presenting an atmospheric animate effect of cosmic emergence and mystery.  Such screens served as if a tabula rasa whose electronic energy felt palpably alive, anticipating emergent luminal creation that could give rise to living and imagined forms, shapes, metaphors, and memes.  This set before me a wondrous stage for the expressive cosmic art of light I long desired to produce.

Traditional mediums in the hands of inspired artists have their own wonderful visceral qualities but the novel aesthetic of pure emissive photonic light from a desktop light generator presented a mystique I found inspirational, wide-ranging and powerful.  The digital medium brought forth the possibility luminal forms and motifs could be easily erased, modified and stored at the ready within any time frame--be they delayed in days, months or years.  One could now create a visual language delivered at light speed with the growing capacity to communicate and materialize form and content to challenge human imagination and creativity.  Beyond this, the growing world wide web offered the potential of distributing and sharing my cosmic works to a global audience.

The Philosophical cosmic issues that shaped my work

My cosmic paintings strive to render the philosophical cosmic realities that scientist, artist and poet seek out and question:

Are the physical constants of nature fine-tuned for life in the universe?
Is the universe biocentric; driven by consciousness, creativity, probability and laws?
Is Polarity and Dualism a cosmic imperative?
Do we have conscious free will or is it a deterministic enfant terrible?
Quantum wave collapse is time irreversible; as such correlates to the arrow of time?
Quantum reality does not exist if you are not looking at it?
Was life seeded to planet earth via Panspermia?
Is the non-material luminferous aether the progenitor carrier of radiation?
Our evolution embraces exponential time to what post human result?
Is the Big Bang a Hoax?

These enigmatic questions arise from an extraordinary patterned colossus universe that encompasses discernible physical and non physical imperative's that seemingly embrace the conscious human condition.  If our 'observation' of atomic matter compels an electron to assume a particular physical position, then consciousness is indeed a non physical phenomenon that mark us remarkable beings' of supernovae energetic stardust!  

This brings to mind something Nikola Tesla once said:

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence. To understand the true nature of the universe, one must think it in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

In Search of the Issues:  Dualities and Polarity

Reflections On Duality, 2014

ying yang
Yin Yang

I have long sought to understand the cosmic imperatives that correlate to Duality and Polarity.  They are closely related but distinctively not the same in practice.  Dualities at their extreme poles succumb to stark choice and are markedly polar opposites that lead to absolute judgment not vetted nor reasoned.  Dualities are instant poles of negative and positive extreme positions that lend themselves to instant, yes/no--black/white immediate choice.  Polarities represent two contrasting negative and positive poles that share commonality, permitting spectrums that flow, pole to pole, as though electric fields.  

To know hot one must know cold that reveal the spectrum of functional temperature ranges that share the same polar energy.  Wave and particle are active spectral partners that meet as one holistic whole when observed. Yin and Yang comprise the rich and varied spectrum of gender that come with the human condition to support vetted harmonic choice amid diversity.  Darkness and light shower astonishing spectrums of shade and color ordered in accordance with the magnitudes of a common physical property from which aesthetic choices are intelligibly felt and made.

The Fine Tuned Constants of Nature

The Fine Tuned Constants of Nature Commensurate with the many Anthropic concepts that arose in 1973, most compelling is the connection to the fundamental fine tuned constants found throughout nature. The physical constants relate intimately with my interest in the cosmological Anthropic Principle (“we the expected”). “If gravity had been stronger or weaker by 1 part in 10 to the 40th power, then life-sustaining stars like the sun could not exist and neither would we be here” (Brandon Carter). “The Strong nuclear force that binds protons and neutrons in an atom, had they been stronger or weaker by as little as 5%, life would be impossible” (Barrow and Tipler). The many Fine Tuned Constants, some like the Golden Ratio, Phi (1.618), Pi, Fibonacci Sequence, Speed of Light, lead to an observable universe immersed in exquisite numberless symmetries, patterns, fractals and self similarities on cosmic scales that stagger imagination. They give credence to cosmic laws in nature that facilitate atoms, microorganisms, life, humans, planetoid's, planets, comets, stars and galaxies, the latter arrayed in infinite clusters, voids and webs seen throughout interstellar space. Life is consonant with natures creativity and seeks to fill every aspiration and niche in space because nature abhors a vacuum in the vast dynamic universe. Fine tuning along with chance and probability drive ever evolving novelty to push the envelope of creative evolution.

Physicist Freeman Dyson notes, "There are many.....lucky accidents in physics. Without such accidents, water could not exist as liquid, chains of carbon atoms could not form complex organic molecules, and hydrogen atoms could not form breakable bridges between molecules" thus, life as we know it would be impossible. Therefore, it has also been noted that initial conditions can result in random departure from predicted actions. Chaos theory gives reasons why it is near impossible to predict whether determinism is true or false. Determinism and Probability have polar connection that signal both play a creative role in nature.

Consciousness, Determinism, Probability and Evolution

With my Light Box
Cosmic-Reverie 1953-73, Ink resist scratch-off

Consciousness, Determinism, Probability and Evolution come into play in concert with fine tuned constants and other fundamental natural laws that betray the cosmic poles of chaos and order: one must know the other in order for life to exist as we know it. Heraclitus, more than 2000 years ago put it succinctly:

"Creativity brings concord. Out of discord comes the Fairest Harmony".

Indeed, we live in a vast complex universe that is as ordered as it appears wild. Consciousness itself may well lie in the cosmic unknown (mysterium) in order to be known by any conscious observer. It is no accident we find ourselves positioned precisely within the light and warmth of a star that itself depends on the stability of an ordered solar system that takes its natural place in the far flung wing of the milky way galaxy.

This speaks to life, existence, cosmic connection and deep laws we have yet to fathom. We ponder such laws that mirror the driven tenacity and capricious variability of life that teeters like a sand pile on the wake of collapse; as if an avalanche that favors creative extinction or an emergence with life ever more beautiful. Into this tumult, I seek out the mystery of an everywhere ubiquitous consciousness and hear an imagined cosmic coil sounding evolution's horn: she resonates the tune and touch of tenacious life, consciousness, creativity, extinctions, cacophony, emergence, melody and symphony, all of which are the striven gift of cosmic octaves that resound and unwind in the vortex helical heart of a galaxy, as ear and eye give radiant flow to luminal conscious mind, life to life. We must have the wisdom to foresee the imminent irrepressible evolution we face as we enter the mid 21st Century. The joyous if not arduous work of near 5 billion years of probabilistic and deterministic evolution is extraordinary given the discovery, in less than 90 years, we are the result of supernovae and stars. Indeed, if we can move fundamental matter by the simple act of conscious observation and contribute to the self creation of so vast a universe, we ourselves have become the gods we once worshiped.

The sapiens we are fly around the earth with free abandon and have defied gravity itself, having stepped on the moon along with having created the stupendous fiery heat of the sun! Thus we have dominion over the earth and are today the gods who now instruct the driven evolution we pursue. We may now ask ourselves, why is it we consciously sense it is us, in some post human frame, who determine the outcome of so vast the universe we carry within ourselves? Aristotle foresaw a universe that would allow for mankind to exist as purposive. Indeed, we tie our existence to consciousness because it is the elixer and flame that enervates all matter to purposive realization. Sir James Jean remarked that "Human knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality. The universe is beginning to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.

Max Planck had this to say about consciousness:
"I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness".

The Anthropic Principle and the Biosphere

Birth In Space, 1962

My earliest intuited bio-cosmic painting, titled "Birth in Space" in 1961 (oil crayon on wood panel, (30 x 20 inches) was influenced by the creative cosmologist and astrophysicist Fred Hoyle (1915--2001) who I admired in the early 1950's. He never shied away from questioning orthodox beliefs, having strongly opposed the Big Bang orthodoxy from it's inception. Hoyle regarded the Big Bang (his invented term) a flawed theory.

He was the strong proponent of a steady-state universe (1948), declaring the cosmos had no beginning or end and thus was eternal and unchanging to include "a balanced continuous creation of matter condensing into galaxies that come and go"! In1954, he was the 'first' to realize that all chemical elements are created inside stars by singlehandedly discovering the process of Stellar Nucleosynthesis. Hoyle invoked the Anthropic Principle (a named concept that arose later in 1972) to make an amazing prediction based on the pervasiveness of carbon-based life-forms. He remarkably determined there had to be an undiscovered 'resonance' in the carbon-12 nucleus that triggered nucleosynthesis. He unequally calculated precisely the energy of this 'resonance' to be 7.6 million electron-volts. This factual phenomena was soon corroborated by others who found this true in the laboratory. This stunned the scientific world by showing how chemical elements heavier than helium were created by thermonuclear reactions inside stars.

A brash Hoyle went on to question the Big Bang microwave background radiation data as being flawed; his alternate cosmological view fell outside the hardcore Big Bang orthodoxy that continues to this day. Hoyle was a confrontational genius who paid a high price for many of his views (he was denied the Nobel Prize regarding nucleosynthesis) He had also favored "Panspermia" a theory that predicts life on our planet was seeded from interstellar space via comets that bore organic molecules, water and viruses. Hoyle is on the cusp of vindication today because astrobiologist's find interstellar space awash in a variety of organic molecules. Recent evidence show comets contain water in abundance and carry with them organic compounds.

Panspermia in the Veil of her Moon, 2005

I've long been moved by Anthropic concepts, particularly the "Participatory Anthropic Principle"  that states the universe had to develop humanity or some other life intelligence or form necessary to its existence;  all the more pertinent today because conscious observers do bring forth concrete reality.  The "Final Anthropic Principle" is equally intriguing, in that it states "once the universe brings life and intelligence into being, it (is an imperative that) will continuously evolve and never end".  My  cosmic paintings bear a strong connection that life on earth has deep roots in Panspermia.

Astonishing scales- As above, so Below

Spiral Choreography in the Biocosmos, 2009, 18 x 24 Dgital  QFX
Spiral Choreography in the Biocosmos, 2009, 18 x 24 Dgital QFX

My cosmic art expresses the surreal wonder, majesty and mystique of a colossal scalar micro-macro universe. It was only 90 years ago astronomers and cosmologists believed our entire observed macrocosmic astronomical universe was contained within only the Milky Way Galaxy. Astronomer, Edwin Hubble, in 1923 shocked the scientific world by discovering countless billions of Milky Way like galaxies exist outside our Milky Way! It is also striking that it was only 25 years before this momentous Hubble discovery that physicists (Einstein, Bohr, Planck, Heisenberg) stunned the scientific world by discovering the microscopic 'microcosm' extends to a vast 'unimaginable' Planck scale. (The Planck length is 1.6 x 10 -35 metres: that's 0.000000000000000000000000000000000016 meters.)



Compare this with the size of an atom, which is already about 100,000 times smaller than anything one can see with your unaided eye (an atom size is about 0.0000000001 meters) Remarkably, if we place mankind at the center of this microcosmic-macrocosmic scalar colossus, we visualize our mid-way approximate position as humans in space: from subatomic quark to astronomical quasar as imaged within this ancient mythological emblem of infinity--the Ouroboros dragon.

The Microcosmic Universe We Contain Within

Brain, A Cosmic Imperative, 2014

In a blink of an eye we discovered that within our bodies, each of us contain a microcosm that extends far and deep into micro space, be it a human cell, a virus, a molecule, atoms and subatomic quantum domain.  

We thus look outward into the endless sidereal macro galactic and deeply inward into mind-numbing micro spatial scales.  It is remarkable that we, Homo Sapiens, have evolved the extraordinary conscious capability to physically measure spatial scales that comprise the colossus universe we observe with imagination and invented tools.  

Albert Einstein was astounded that we could comprehend the universe:

"The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is all comprehensible."  

Hence, my digital tools make possible a cosmic art that embraces space both outward and inward at mind-numbing scales from quark to quasar with both wonderment and awe.

It is astonishing that we contain so vast a universe within each of us! We are sustained by an orchestrated cellularity that number 37 trillion cells, some 40 trillion bacteria and 20,000 plus microorganisms that render us the miraculous gift of human life. Beyond this we harbor a microbiome comprised of symbiotic fellow travelers that keep us alive as well: fungi, viruses and archaea in numbers that are more than vast. We note that astronomers estimate there are some 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe. There are at least 800 billion more cells in your body than there are galaxies in the known universe! Each of us is given this stupendous micro-cosmic living environment that include a kind of mini-ecosystem that we must respect and nurture. "Our human microbiome is made up of communities of symbiotic, commensal and pathogenic bacteria (along with fungi and viruses) all of which call our bodies home" fact we add to this question...only 10% of the cells in our body are human.

There is more to say about the human condition above when we consider our brain which is reported to have more synaptic connections than there are stars in the universe. No one knows the exact count but the latest estimate is that our brains contain roughly 86 billion brain cells. It's daunting to know that each neuron in the brain connects with, on average 40,000 synapses. Add to this, a piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses all communicating with each other. Yes, indeed, the brain is the largest most complex organ in the human body! It is made up of more than 100 billion nerves that communicate in trillions of synapse connections. It is interesting that the cerebrum is dipolar in that it is divided into two hemispheres. This touches my deep interest in polarities. Moreover, it is estimated that the human brain has a raw computational power between 10/13 and 10/16 operations per second that can be said is 1 million times the number of people on Earth.

Let there be high regard for this enormous body of life and complexity we carry within us and with the deepest reverence and aesthetic awe. It is worth recapping that we are the evolved emergent beings of stardust whose deep origin and connection is the cosmic consequence of radiant light, supernovae and stars. Life is both lottery and cosmic gift to all who live with sensorial and conscious intent from moment to moment; which is to say we must all endeavor to live at the edge of consciousness. As an artist I live to express the wonder of our conscious being in concert with all life on this fragile and precious goldilocks planet. It is enough to give thanks to have lived at all, given that we embody within each of us so vast the sacred microcosmos we harbor. We now have the science to appreciate how the brain is structured and coordinated to a fine degree but how and why its vast functional capacities lead us to consciousness remains a mystery. I do key in with those who believe consciousness has cosmic existence and origin. Our deliverance to a future that has long journeyed from the smallest cell to the astonishing connectivity, neuron to neuron give rise to all we contain within us: supernovae, galaxies and stars that reach back into the depths of time and space.

flowersRecalling The Age of Flowers

My paintings explore and celebrate the cosmic mystery of life and the resplendent universe I found in early wonderment childhood to this day. There is a certain rapture to regard life and consciousness with growing reverence for the sacred in life. We would not exist were it not for the massive supernovae ovens that cooked the table of the elements and made possible the precious gift of life from primitive microbiome to human. We commit ourselves to the miracle of life and look back into eons of time to dream the garden of flowers we celebrate on this precious and lovely blue green planet. Our evolution and the observed tenacity and diversity of life itself is beyond astonishing, bringing to mind the geological epoch called the "Age of Flowers" in the Cretaceous, some 100 million years ago, when the "angiosperm's" and grasslands, butterflies and smallest of creatures conquered the earth at a most appropriate geologic time. Without this incredible birthed explosion we humans would not be here at a time we have dominance and stewardship over life and planet. On my morning walks I now have amassed over 600 single portrait faces of flowers.

As One Who Paints With Bio-Cosmic Light

Saturnalia Hexagonus 2009, 18 x 24, Digital, QFX.

If astronomers seek out the very edge of time, light and space and physicists seek the holy grail of fundamental particles and matter, theologians and philosophers the nature of existence and agency, I pursue the mystery of emergent evolution and meaning of conscious life at all scales of reality.

My cosmic art strives to engage such mystery as emerges from the polarity of darkness and light where choice bring about image and form that lie in both the unconscious and conscious mind. As one who paints with light, I view my photonic screen as a night black atmosphere that anticipates emerging luminal appearances that set before me a sense of creation and mystery. I conjure imaginary quizzical luminal forms, memes, and metaphors from the mystique of an electronic darkness; they betray the hot and frigid depths of near to far emergence from the deep sub-atomic reaches to vast galactic cascades of crystalline stars that bring heat, light and life to the night womb of creation.

I do not always preconceive my paintings because I anticipate the unconscious, opening myself to the motifs and visual forms that draw inspiration from human nature, evolution, philosophy and the sciences. I may well become an instrument of the conscious cosmic process observing itself.

"Great art, said, Loren Eiseley, "is the night thought of man, and it may emerge without warning from the boundless depths of the unconscious just as supernovae may blaze up suddenly in the farther reaches of void space".

The metaphoric motifs in my paintings today echo my absorption with nature, life and cosmic connectedness at all scales, from subatomic quark to quasar. This echoes the very nature of my scalar luminal paintings. My cosmic art strives to seek out meaning from the limitless depths of seeing and perceiving, as if searching the transcendental realm beyond the reach of consciousness. I ask of nature what is it that I do not see, hear or feel? The night thought of the eminent Naturalist, Eiseley reaches the marrow of body, soul and digital pen to cry out,"before art was or substance existed, imagination grew from the darkness of some grand and sentient pregnant void at scales that stagger our concept of space itself.

The Universe Knew We Were Coming
The Universe Knew We Were Coming

Note: This was my first digital master work: a large high resolution, digital bio-cosmic painting, begun in 1998 and completed in 2001. It was initially designed at 103 megapixels; printed to canvas at 48 inches (2) and was also prepared as a Fujichrome transparency enclosed in 48 inch light boxes (3). Later, I released the painting at 290 megapixels. It was honored at Princeton University in October, 2004 and exhibited on what was then the largest digital rear projection screen in the country, measuring, 8' x 18' feet in width (6000 x 3000 pixels, utilizing clustered PC's).

Albert Einstein spoke to universe, truth and awe, with this statement that blends Art and Science as one:
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

I look with growing wonder and apprehension at the continuum of quantum to quasar complex scales of structure that maintain themselves (autopoiesis) along with organic cellular life. Astronomical events in all their wildness and order suggest the universe is alive in manners we yet perceive. My cosmic art speaks to a universe seen as intrinsically creative, alive, wild, organized, patterned from quark to quasar that is wide-ranging: utterly mysterious, hauntingly beautiful, dark, luminous, infinite, puzzling—as well as unsettling and disturbing. We appear to be pivoting between peril and promise because we have absolute supremacy over the planet and as such, have the responsibility to protect the global ecosystem (as we do ourselves) and all if its life to herald the continuance of our evolution. If we are attentive and wise, the mysteries of quantum subatomic physics, evolution of life, the solar system, stars and worlds beyond will indeed await us.

© January 2017, Roger Ferragallo




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