Traces of the Cosmos film

Film Commentary

The short film, “Traces of the Cosmos,” (2013) is inspired by the installation of the same name first shown at Warner Pacific College in Portland Oregon in 2012. Rather than a documentary, it is a work of art made in response to the installation. This installation was the second universe-inspired painting series by Madill.

She and videographer Ian Lucero worked collaboratively on this film. He listened carefully to her vision and expanded it in several positive ways. He thoughtfully combined the music with the images.

Music for the film itself was contributed by composer Susan Alexjander. She works with scientists who have “transposed” the frequencies emitted by atoms and other elements of the universe to frequencies that can be heard by human ears. She then uses this as the underlying basis for her compositions. This seemed particularly fitting for such a film. After a brief pause, the credits are accompanied by marimba music improvised by gifted jazz musician Dennis Plies in response to the installation and played at the closing of the installation.

The installation consisted of 12 oil paintings, 4’ by 2’, 6 acrylic paintings, 6-1/2” by 7-1/2”, four painted obelisks, 5-1/2’ to 6’1/2’ tall, a 4’ EarthBall painted with earth and universe elements, and two 4’ by 4’ freestanding mirrors. William Madill constructed the obelisks, free-standing mirrors and canvases. Two of the obelisks also have elliptical openings on one side with curved paintings inside and automatic lighting, which he also designed. The EarthBall was contributed by Eric Morris of Orbis and painted by Jan Madill. Most of these are seen in the film.

Although the installation and film were both poetic responses to the cosmos rather than more photorealistic works, nevertheless they sparked much learning from the viewpoint of an artist about this “golden age” of cosmology. Astronomer/physicists Tom Geballe PhD, Mark Jackson PhD, and Jake VanDerPlas PhD were all extremely generous with their time and expertise which was much appreciated.