As someone who finds fascination in all things related to space, I am always thrilled when I discover projects exploring the topic. The universe is such an unfathomably massive place that whatever we know about it so far barely scratched the surface. I think that’s what makes it such a hypnotic topic to explore for creatives. One of my recent favorites is an abstract photography set by Hamburg-based Jan Erik Waider, wherein he imagines the early days of our home planet.
Previously, I shared Waider’s mesmerizing aerial snaps that revealed to us the surreal beauty of Iceland’s glacier rivers in an abstract color study. If that set, “A Colorful Flow,” was particularly eye-catching for its painterly feel, the aptly titled “Genesis” is full of raw and atmospheric energy — just like the Earth in its primordial years.
Imagining Earth’s fiery beginnings
“The Earth. Some while ago,” was all Waider wrote in his series description. Browsing through the photos, it’s easy to see and feel that it was enough. Our home planet — as with all the other awe-inspiring things in the universe — had an explosive birth and fiery early days. These abstract landscapes make for some interesting imagining of how it could have looked like.
Scientists tell us that Earth of billions of years ago suffered through collisions with other planetesimals (the so-called “late heavy bombardment”), volcanism and other intense processes. I’m sure that Waider took inspiration from these facts to recreate the conditions of our home planet ages before it became the only known sanctuary for life.
Creating a powerful atmosphere
Throughout the series, “Genesis” is brimming with a powerful atmosphere fitting of a very extraordinary planet. Waider staged it really effectively. Instead of lush greenery and deep blue oceans, we see a rugged landscape seemingly still smoldering from all the bombardment and volcanic activity. There’s a lot of contrasty silhouettes, jagged natural formations and prominent textures. The dark and minimalist color palette complete the seemingly glowing terrestrial surface and toxic atmosphere.
Overall, I think this abstract body of work is not only a testament of Waider’s highly imaginative creative vision, but also a representation of humanity’s collective interest in the only place (so far) that we can call home. I am also amazed at how he was able to find the perfect spots on Earth today to tell his story. I won’t be surprised it’s it somewhere in otherworldly Iceland!
All photos by Jan Erik Waider. Used with Creative Commons permission.