We are so excited to be working with one of the most amazing designer/artist, authentic, passionate, public speaker, motivator and inspiration: James Victore!
Fresh off the press today! Our Cities by Night: From Above collaboration with James Victore.
Liberté. Égalité. Fraternité.
Happy Bastille Day Paris!
Every man casts himself into the world by making himself a lack of being; he thereby contributes to reinvesting it with human signification. He discloses it. And in this movement even the most outcast sometimes feel the joy of existing. They then manifest existence as a happiness and the world as a source of joy. But it is up to each one to make himself a lack of more or less various, profound, and rich aspects of being. What is called vitality, sensitivity, and intelligence are not ready-made qualities, but a way of casting oneself into the world and of disclosing being. Doubtless, every one casts himself into it on the basis of his physiological possibilities, but the body itself is not a brute fact. It expresses our relationship to the world, and that is why it is an object of sympathy or repulsion. And on the other hand, it determines no behavior.
The Inspiration for our “Cities by Night” Collection
Our most recent collection of silk scarves is titled From Above: Cities by Night. These images of the USA, New York, Paris and London by night have been chosen not only for their beautiful renders of city lights as seen from space, but also to draw attention to all these lights burning so needlessly, brightly and endlessly.
Keep in mind, this is what our cities look like from above at night. We can see them from up here among the stars (in our Slow Factory satellite), but they completely obscure the vast beauty of the universe from all nearby earth-dwellers.
Other than the vast energy it takes to light our cities, suburbs and even countryside, there is a major issue of light pollution both for people and animals.
As Jake recently wrote to us, "Stray artificial light doesn't just waste energy and prevent us from seeing more stars, it also has negative effects on animals that navigate by natural light, it messes with our circadian rhythms, and it can reduce safety and security in cases of bad lighting design."
Check out The International Dark-Sky Association to learn more about the only non-profit organization fighting to preserve the night.
Another reason why I began Slow Factory is because as I have grown up, I can see less and less stars in the sky. Adding to it the fact that we traveled a lot and that I never really felt grounded or connected to a home, I felt the need to look at telescope and satellite images of the stars.
We are moving further away from feeling connected to our planet, to our world and even to one another as human beings. Slow Factory is an experiment and a way to raise awareness around these issues by celebrating science, our world and us as one.
Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July week-end!
From above, at night, it looks like fireworks and party all the time!
The revolution has been favorable to science in general, particularly to that of the geography of our own country,’ wrote the Reverend Jedidiah Morse. In 1784, when Morse published his first geography textbook, he dedicated it ‘To the Young Masters and Misses Throughout the United States,’ signaling its appropriateness for females. Highly popular among boys and girls alike, Morse’s Geography Made Easy ran through numerous editions at least until 1820, when the twenty-third edition appeared. Geography was the first science to appear widely in girls’ schoolbooks after the American Revolution.
How Geography Paved the Way for Women in Science and Cultivated the Values of American Democracy
A while ago I received an email from Amy Mainzer from NASA about the Witch Head Nebula.
After a few emails with Amy I learned that she was the one who discovered this Nebula. How cool is that?
I asked if I could interview her, she agreed and put me in touch with another astrophysicist who discovers as part of his job nebulas and stars. I fell off my chair I was so excited!
We talk about Art, Science and the beauty of this world!
This is the first in a series of interviews with astrophysicists who have discovered the Nebulas we print.
Celine: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Celine: How did you get into astrophysics?
Amy: I wanted to study astronomy from when I was 6 or 7. Kids love science, and a lot of my colleagues knew they wanted to be scientists starting when they were children. Children are natural scientists because they are curious, resourceful and want to experiment. These are exactly the characteristics you need to solve technical problems. A lot of times kids have to be taught not to ask questions. Yet this is the thought process of science, methodically taking apart problems to understand them.
Design and science have so much in common. A lot of what we’re doing as scientists is designing new experimental systems so we can learn something.
Amy: My interest in astrophysics started with an encyclopedia. Paper encyclopedias are antiques now! Before the Internet, we didn't have access to information so easily, so we went to the library, and I was very interested in Greek mythology. When I looked up Greek mythological characters like Andromeda, the encyclopedia gave the story about the character, but on the other page it showed the image of the galaxy. What really pulled me in were the images – their strangeness and beauty.
Celine: Were you good in math?
Amy: I was pretty good in math when I was kid, and I liked it. Math was an interesting puzzle, and it was almost calming. Algebra is about sorting things, moving things from one side to the other. If you do it right, you can move everything in a sort of an orderly way that makes sense – it’s meditative. A lot of people have a bad experience with math, but they then discover later in life that they love science. Math is the language of science; it’s just a way of making sense of things using symbols. Part of the difficulty of learning math is that it’s very sequential - it builds up from one step to the next, and if we get lost in a class, we can't go back easily. For example, we need to learn to add before we can multiply. A lot of times people fall off the track and they get lost, and not everyone learns the same way. I wish there was a better way so that more people could be comfortable with math and science, since they underpin everything around us. What I would love is for more people to make science an everyday a part of their lives.
Celine: These images are obviously very much about beauty. Talk about Art and Science and what goes on in your head when you create them.
Amy: Art can be a human reaction to beauty, whereas science is the understanding and appreciation of nature. To me, science is another medium to appreciate beauty. Art can help you interpret the world around you through feelings. They are very much the two sides of the same coin.
Celine: Is it magic? How do you make them?
Amy: My mother is an artist, and I've loved to draw all my life as a hobby. As a scientist, I'm interested in how things work, and images are one of the best tools we have to study astrophysical phenomena. Since the project I work on right now is focused (no pun intended) on taking infrared pictures of the sky, a big part of the job is sifting through the images to find the asteroids that we're studying. I love finding beautiful images that tell an interesting story, so when I stumble across one, it's tempting to spend a little time playing with it! I use a few different programs to download the images, register them correctly, and display the colors and scale properly.
Celine: Is this what the Universe really looks like?
Amy: The universe looks vastly different depending on the wavelength of light you use to observe it. The light that we see with our eyes is only a tiny fraction of all the different colors that are out there, ranging from X-rays and gamma rays to radio waves: these are all light. Because astronomers often collect images of the sky at wavelengths that can't be seen by the human eye, such as ultraviolet or infrared, we have to assign these invisible wavelengths to ones we can actually see in order to view them. Each wavelength reveals something unique about the physical processes and conditions in stars, asteroids, and galaxies, so how you translate the invisible colors to visible light tells a different part of the story of what's going on out there. For example, the infrared wavelengths used by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission are about 6-20 times longer than the wavelengths the human eye can see. Since infrared radiation is heat, and since the hottest flames are blue, we typically represent the shortest wavelengths with blue colors, and the longest infrared wavelength gets translated as red. So when you look at an infrared image from WISE, the stars typically appear blue, since they're thousands of degrees, and cool gas (like the Witch Head Nebula) glows green and red. Infrared images allow us to measure temperatures of these distant objects. As humans, we actually have a fairly limited range of colors that we can see. Many birds and fish have much better color vision and can sense ultraviolet light; also, their reds look redder and blues look bluer. The world must look so gorgeous to them! But we’re better off than a lot of other mammals in terms of our color vision. So why do human eyes see only visible light? The answer lies in physics: we evolved around a yellow sun that emits a lot of its energy at these wavelengths, and our vision is adapted to take advantage of it. You might wonder what we would have been like if we grew up around a red dwarf – maybe we would see infrared light instead, on a planet with red and orange trees!
Celine: Do you think there is life out there?
Amy: One thing that we have learned fairly recently is that planets are ubiquitous...they are everywhere! There are lots of planets, big planets like Jupiter with atmospheres full of poisonous gas, smaller Neptune-like planets, and even some Earth-sized ones have been found. We now know that there are countless planets in the universe.
Of course everyone wants to find out if there is life on other planets, but space is very big, almost entirely empty, and if there is life somewhere, it's not going to be easy for us to go there. The reality is that we’re a long way from Star Trek-like transportation. Astronomy gives you a sense of perspective. We are here on this planet, and we are not leaving anytime soon. If you spend time looking into the Universe, you quickly realize that most everywhere is inhospitable in the extreme: filled with poisonous gases or hard vacuum, too cold, blasted by radiation, or too hot. All this makes Earth such a valuable place, such an amazing place. When we look at the Earth from space, it looks so peaceful and calm from up there. I wish we could learn to all live there, peacefully.
Celine: "Amen" Do you think there is a correlation between being exposed to these kinds of magnificent beautiful images and our mood? Do they make us more optimistic?
Amy: Images have tremendous power to shape our thoughts and feelings. As basic tools of science, imagery helps us to understand some of the fundamental questions about our world that science gives us a framework to answer. Finding answers gives people a sense of certainty and comfort.
The power of images of the natural world is that they can inspire people to care about it. The more you learn about something, whether it’s stars or plants or animals, the more you love it. Of course that means you’re upset when you see it being destroyed because of lack of care. Learning makes you feel more appreciative that what’s around us in nature is irreplaceable.
Celine: What is happiness to you?
Amy: One aspect of happiness is learning about the world around us. The joy of learning makes me happy, but how that knowledge is applied is even more important.
Celine: What would be your words of wisdom to young girls wanting to go into this field?
Amy: Science is for everyone, and I love being a scientist. It makes me very happy. Working to understand nature gives you a lot of freedom in answering questions and affecting the world around you. Science benefits from having a lot of different people solving all different types of problems in many ways. We need everyone's brains to solve humanity’s toughest challenges.
This is a letter I got that is worth sharing. It made me smile and believe that what Slow Factory is working for is actually happening. With Michael's authorization, I am publishing it here.
Thank you Michael.
I recently received my order and enclosed with it was a card that read, "Thank you for your patience." I just wanted to let you know that the wait was not long at all, and the time I did wait was well worth it.
This was a gift to my significant other, and the moment she unfolded the cloth, she fell in love with it. As adults, it's not often that we encounter objects that evoke a feeling of awe and amazement, but today, I was able to witness my best friend and lover experience that child-like happiness that we all seem to have forgotten. Watching her wrap herself up in it and twirl around our home is something I will never forget. Moments like these are refreshing and help me remember why I love her as much as I do.
Thank you for creating such beautiful things, and thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience that joy. Keep doing what you're doing, and don't let anyone ever stop you.
Dear Mom, I don't need a special day to remind me how much you are awesome and how much I love you. Thank you.
Happy Mother's day!
Everyday should be Mother's day.
I was such a rebellious child. My mom and I didn't really get along. As a pre-teen when we moved to Lebanon from Montreal, right after the war ended, or sort of ended, I was so angry at her. It is only recently after I had my first child, a daughter who apparently is as energetic and hyper as I was, that I saw my mother in a new light. I suddenly understood a few things. One day, as I watched my newborn sleeping I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and compassion for my mother. It was then that I understood my mother's unconditional love. I took so much for granted. This mother's day, take the chance to send your mom a note from the heart. Take her out for dinner, cook for her, cover her with hugs and kisses. You don't need to buy her anything, just be there and be present. Cherish her.
Not to forget Earth. Mother Earth. Yeah. We are all floating in space on Mother-Ship Earth and we need to wish Mother-Earth a Happy Mother's day too.
Sending you all much love!
p.s.: I am so sorry we are sold-out on most of our prints! However we are in production as we speak and aim to be ready to ship all of the pre-orders in the first week of June. Thank you so much for your support. It's thanks to all of you that I can take this company to the next level.
Merci. Thank you!