Kevin Suffern: Nebula

  • ©2003, Kevin G. Suffern





Creation Year:



    95 cm x 65 cm


Artist Statement:

    I have been writing ray tracers for 10 years for use in teaching, research, and computer art. In my artwork, I try to create images of great fractal complexity from the simplest possible scenes. Nebula was created by ray tracing a single hollow black sphere with a mirror on its inner surface, and with the normals altered by a random bump map.

    I placed the camera and a number of coloured lights inside the sphere and ray traced their reflections by allowing the rays to bounce 8-10 times off the inner surface. The bump map caused the rays to be reflected in random directions at each bounce, creating a chaotic system of light rays within the sphere. The images consist of the specular highlights of the lights, and their reflections, on the inner surface of the sphere. Because order often arises out of chaos, the resulting images are not completely random, but instead have a structure to them. Nebula reminds me of the wispy and filamentary structure of planetary or interstellar nebulae. Other images I have done this way remind me of clouds and a comet’s impact.

    Nebula was not planned in the sense that I had any vision of what it would look like. I usually have no idea what the images will look like before they are ray traced. I do, however, know when an image looks interesting or promising, and I then refine it by adjusting any of the approximately 80 parameters that define the scene. On average, an image will take about two weeks of experimenting before I am happy with it.

    My images are printed with a LightJet printer on archival photographic paper.

All Works by the Artist(s) in This Archive: