Astronomical, the latest project by artist Mishka Henner, is an entire scale model of the Sun and the nine traditional planets...and absolutely nothing else. As you can see in the video below, it's one giant reminder of cosmic emptiness.
Each of the 6,000 pages represents a million kilometers. While a black and white image of the Sun takes up the first two pages, almost every other page is totally black to illustrate just how vast the distance is between each of the planets. Earth doesn't show up until page 155 of the first volume, and even then it's at best a quick cameo that barely even lives up to the title of the Pale Blue Dot.
At least Earth can actually be seen — some of the planets, like Mercury, are so tiny that it's hard to even spot them when they do show up on the page. The most impressive page after the Sun is Jupiter's appearance on page 283 of the second volume...but then there's still over ten volumes worth of emptiness left to go.
The entire book is split into twelve volumes, and Henner says he has "read" the entire thing, an experience he called "meditative." You can get some sense of that by watching the video preview on the left, which outdoes even Spinal Tap in answering the eternal question, "How more black could this be?" The answer is most definitely none more black. New Scientist spoke to Henner, who explained his motivations behind this project:
He wants the 6,000 pages to demonstrate just how lonely and surrounded by nothingness we are. To this end, Henner made the book as cold and unsentimental as possible, "because the universe is cold, isn't it? And isolated, lost, lonely," he says.
And it really works. The physicality of turning over thousands of pages of uninterrupted black brings home the scale of how far we are from the other planets orbiting the sun...Henner's interest in nothingness was piqued when he heard about the cosmonauts' experiences on space station Mir . "What the cosmonauts taught us was that being up there and staring out into the void just makes you want to go home," he tells me.
Image by Mishka Henner.