The Sun, the helios, its affect on Earth is a particular area of study called heliophysics. And NASA have quite a bit of this research on it's education websites. Solar flares have become an area of my interest lately. It is clear that we are entering an unusually high level of solar storm activity over the next 11 years, with a peak activity predicted by NASA scientists in 2012/2013. The lack of research on the effects of solar flare radiation on humans is vast but its effect on electromagnetic and electronic equipment is not. It's as disastrous for us in 2012 as it was in the 19th century when solar flares disrupted and melted telegraph wires (the internet of its day). After the last 12 months of environmental havoc, it started me thinking-and drawing.
Germany's decision to shut down nuclear power plants in March this year under the slogan, "heed Fukushima - shut off all nuclear plants" was reported as a concession to power sharing with The Greens. But I also remembered that Angela Merkel is also a physicist. These things all seemed unconnected until I started my research on solar flares for my new paintings. Then along the way I wondered if Merkel had thoughts as strange as my own.
Sol Invictus - harking back to the original Sun God of the Roman Empire. Sol seems a good name for this character in my painting.
In the last 12 months solar activity has been very high. In August this year a spacecraft was able to film a solar storm engulf the Earth (watch). Now before you tune off, please, this is research for a painting. The point of blogging this in my studio diary is that these radiations affect the character of the narrative in this painting i am now doing. Imagine, for a just a moment, what that flare could do to biological experiments.
That is the idea behind this research. But along the way, there is a lot that comes across my notes. One of them is the scenario of electrical grid failure on a massive scale in a society utterly dependent not only on electricity but nuclear energy. And NASA isn't the National Enquirer and it has been warning about solar storms for many years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has even issued an urgent warning about solar flares due to strike in 2012 and 2013. Sure, there are worse case scenarios doing the Internet rounds. And yet they are peripheral to the idea of the Sun in my paintings. The thing that stuck is that the solar flares have incredble power to change life.
The Sun is central to almost every myth and religion on Earth. Sun worship has a permanent place throughout human history. When you see these NASA videos, I hope you are as awed as I am. It links to the white horse in sun-deity mythology. In Christian theology it is associated with the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the white horse rider who leads armies out of Heaven in an end of days narrative. This thread is also found in several of my Judy Garland paintings, but I have selected one of my works in paper in 2009 called Elsewhere to illustrate how I see myself amongst all this solar activity (above). So the name Sol Invictus seems perfect. Below are some video speed ups of the last solar storm eruption in June 2011.