Estevan Mykhail Guzman is a 3D animator with a passion for physics and space travel. He currently works at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California. As a ‘space artist’ Estevan finds inspiration in science and space travel for his works. During our interview Estevan told us about how he became a space artist and the role of art in scientific discovery.
PLASMA: How long have you been working for the Griffith Observatory? What has been your job so far?
Estevan: I’ve been working for the Griffith Observatory since the summer of 2014. I started off as a museum guide on the floor of our exhibits where I got to interact and teach inquisitive visitors. Shortly after, opportunities came up to do art for the Observatory which I immediately took advantage of. After a couple of years of steady consistent projects, work on the new planetarium show began ramping up and I was brought on board.
PLASMA: What has been your greatest experience at the Observatory?
Estevan: There are far too many to choose from. Whether its filling a kid with fresh awe at the cosmos or just banter with my other museum guide friends. Since I’ve been on the Planetarium Show my most favorite experiences involve meeting scientists when doing research for a show. The best part is when the scientist goes on about data and graphs and conditions of whatever it is we’re talking about and inevitably one of the artists will ask, “Yeah, but what does it look like?” and the scientist pauses and has to consider something they never have before. Those moments highlight the importance of artists in the field of science.
PLASMA: When did you discover your passion for Outer Space?
Estevan: My parents were always showing me science fiction movies and shows as a kid. Particularly Star Trek and Star Wars so an interest in space was always infused in me. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s, in that post adolescent life searching for a purpose, that sci-fi really drew me to want to discover and search for something bigger than myself.
PLASMA: Was there a key moment during your childhood that made you realise your passion for Space?
Estevan: I can recall once when I was a toddler and my dad pulled out a telescope. He wasn’t a big astronomy guy or anything but we had a telescope and he somehow found Saturn and it was the first time that the direct light from another world touched my eyes. I remember I could even see the structure of the rings. It was quite magical.
PLASMA: What’s your favourite science-fiction movie or series?
Estevan: That’s a tough one. I have a pantheon of favourites rather than a top number one. I suppose my favorite kind of science fiction is ironically the kind you don’t see a lot of, where scientists are the main characters. Those kinds of stories like the Martian and Star Trek really show humanity at its best when individual cleverness along with working with others is portrayed as the primary catalyst for discovery and finding solutions to problems. But also, movies like 2001 A Space Odyssey and Gravity were really inspirational to me aesthetically as their portrayal of space was dramatic, deep, terrifying and most of all real.
PLASMA: What do you think about art & science? What does art do for scientists? And science for artists?
Estevan: Though it doesn’t immediately come to mind, art has always been connected science. When Galileo first saw the sky through a telescope the only way he could possibly record what he saw was through drawings.
Even now that we have telescopes and space probes that can take these beautiful images of far off worlds, we still wonder what it would be like to walk there. That’s when the artists come in again: there will always be horizons where our technology can’t take us, and art can take us there. That said, the scientific method has allowed us to see a universe far more strange and beautiful and intricate than any human can perceive by imagination alone. There is a lot to be inspired by. I like to think the dance between science and art is a cycle. It’s hard to say which came first but I guess I would sum it up as science pushes art to see further and art inspires science to reach further.
PLASMA: If you could travel to another planet, which one would you go to?
Estevan: It is hard to say. I’d love to see the painterly ribbons of wind and hurricanes on Jupiter but then I would also like to take a ride on a block of ice within Saturn’s rings. It’s between those two.
PLASMA: Which planet would you love to create? What would the planet look like and what would it contain?
Estevan: If I were to create a world it would be a tidally locked Earth-like world where one side of the planet always faces the sun. The sun facing side would be a scorched desert while the opposite side would be a frigid ice world. Vegetation and liquid water would be bounded to a narrow belt that goes from north to south. On this world, civilization would be forever in twilight with a sun suspended forever, owning eternally a spot in the sky.
PLASMA: After your journey, what kind of media would you use to tell other people about your impressions?
Estevan: It would have to be photography. Nothing I paint or draw would ever capture what is really out there.
PLASMA: What was your most exciting adventure on Earth so far?
Estevan: I went to see the Grand Canyon at sunrise. It was about a 3-hour drive from southern Utah. I remember driving for an hour and a half at least, a hundred miles in the middle of the night in a desert in Arizona with no sign of civilization in the entire run. It was so dark I could see the Milky Way from my car. Regrettably, I was alone, so every time I stopped my car to admire the site I got paranoid by what potentially lurked in the dark and kept moving. I hope to go back again.
Full article in PLASMA 4 (print edition) http://www.presentbooks.de/product/plasma-4