This was the first project in my set design class, and the first set I ever designed.
We were instructed to design a set based off of a painting or a photo. I chose the Hubble Space Telescope's image of the Bubble Nebula.
In designing this set, I was fascinated with the ideas of distance and time in astronomy photography. The Bubble Nebula is 7,000 light years away, meaning it took the light in Hubble's photo 7,000 years to reach the telescope's camera. In other words, we are seeing the Bubble Nebula as it was 7,000 years ago.
7,000 years ago humans had just figured out how to smelt copper. It would be another 1,000 years before human civilization would emerge in Mesopotamia. 1,400 years after that, writing would be developed in Egypt.
I was also interested in the fact that when the nebula was discovered in 1787, nobody had any idea what it was and it was put on a list of "things that aren't comets." All the way through the 17 and 1800s, such objects were known as nebulae, and were only of interest because they got in the way of "useful" observations of comets. Galaxies such as the Andromeda Galaxy were known as Spiral Nebulae.
I found my self drawn the history of the Bubble Nebula and other similar objects, most of which were discovered throughout the 1800s. I decided to place the nebula inside the facade of a natural history museum. I did this to reference the idea that we are seeing the nebula preserved as it was 7,000 years ago. The suspended street lamps both represent stars, and the human technological advances that were taking place in the mid to late 1800s. It's the marriage of two separate histories, both colliding on the camera sensor of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Image Credit: HST/NASA