Cosmic portraits and out-of-this-world sweet treats


Sergio Albiac’s “Stardust” portraits merge personal photographs with images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope. (Sergio Albiac/Imagery from STScI)
August 26, 2013
Culture
Outer space gets artist’s treatment, and a baker makes out-of-this-world treats
Stardust portraits by Sergio Albiac, Planetary cakes by Cakecrumbs

Though we may not always feel it, we are all a part of the cosmos. Artist Sergio Albiac has found a way to make us see that connection more literally. His project, “ Stardust ,” merges personal photographs with images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope to create collages that are a haunting blend of art and science.

If you’d like to see how you look fused with a star formation, for example, you can send a picture of yourself to Albiac at www.sergioalbiac.com. Using an automated software program, he’ll blend your selfie with an ethereal image taken by NASA. (The result gives a whole new meaning to the idea of having your head in the clouds.) The images will be displayed online in a Flickr gallery, and each participant will receive three cosmic portraits uploaded to a Google Drive account.

Albiac says the project was inspired by nucleosynthesis, the process by which matter combines to form new atomic nuclei. “We humans are believed to be novel combinations of cosmic stardust. It could be argued that the whole universe is the biggest running generative art installation today,” Albiac writes on his site. (Albiac’s non-cosmically inspired work will go on display at Artisphere in Arlington next month.)

If you prefer the idea of eating your science projects, the Australian cook behind the food blog Cakecrumbs has created an online tutorial on how to make cakes that look literally out of this world.

The baker, known to her fans as Rhiannon, drew some attention — among both foodies and space geeks — creating spherical layer cakes based on planetary structures.

The idea started as a response to a challenge from her sister, who was looking for a novel way of teaching elementary school students about the Earth’s structure. Rhiannon used hemispherical baking tins of various sizes to bake a cake within a cake within a cake to represent the Earth’s inner core, outer core and mantle. Chocolate buttercream filled the role of the Earth’s crust; oceans and continents were concocted out of marshmallow fondant.

Her next project was Jupiter, which also made good use of marshmallow fondant. She sketched the sugary whip with ivory, brown and maroon edible ink to represent Jupiter’s gaseous atmosphere. Numerous spheres illustrated the giant planet’s rock-and-ice core, which is believed to be surrounded by a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen and an outer layer of molecular hydrogen.

“In cake speak, this translates to a core made of mudcake, surrounded by almond butter cake, surrounded by a tinted vanilla Madeira sponge. There’s a crumb coat of vanilla buttercream underneath the fondant,” she wrote on her blog.

Though you can’t order the cakes, Rhiannon’s video tutorials, available at www.cakecrumbs.me, offer guidance for the adventuresome baker at home.

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