Stardust Portrait 9545

One of my favorite things about the internet today is how artists and creatives of various sorts have found interesting ways to collaborate with others, specifically: me and you and everyone commonplace. I went into great detail about my excitement (and involvement) with Foster Huntington’s The Burning House, which was my first foray into these free, online collaborative projects. When opportunities like this arise, I can’t help but join the legions of others who want to be part of it.

Which brings me to the Stardust Project by Sergio Albiac. Sergio created an imaging program that can take pictures of people’s faces (submitted by anyone who wants to be involved) and generate unique portraits using a mosaic-smattering of nebulae images taken from the Hubble. He’ll provide you with three different portraits, and they’ll also be posted with the thousands of others on his Flickr

Stardust Portrait 11649

I honestly can’t remember how I found out about this project (it was just over a month ago), but you can bet that it took me about .73 seconds to start hunting for a picture to submit.

For the record, finding an image for this was tough for me (*white whine*). I don’t have a lot of simple front-facing ones where I’m not wearing sunglasses, or someone isn’t in the image with me, or I don’t look totally dreadful. Sergio’s instructions say that (for the most part) you have only one shot at this, and what you get — you get.

And most of them, by Jove, are simply stunning.

There is an incredible variety, some with clear faces, and others that look decidedly more like, well… bursts of stardust.

All of the images become clearer when you view them smaller (or squint), which I find particularly fun. Personally, I like the photos where the clarity is a little in-between: the face is not too clearly defined, but the contrast features of the face are still visible.


Naturally, when you’re submitting your photo, there’s no way to know whether you picked one that will turn out “well” or how you want; the randomness of it, though, is rather exciting, I think. Sergio recommended using something with good contrast, so I kept that in mind.

I decided to use this photo, because the lines of my jaw and cheekbones, and my British-white skin and dark hair/background all created a fairly decent contrast.

Even though this one wasn’t front-facing, it still beat out all the other options, because I didn’t want something where my teeth were showing. (This was taken NYE ’09/’10, and yes it’s blurry, but it’s also flattering!) I bit the bullet and loaded it to Google Drive for Sergio.

Then, I waited. Then, I completely forgot about it.

Turns out Sergio’s turnaround time is only about 2-3 days, but I didn’t think to check it until almost 3 weeks later. I’m astonished that he can create so many incredible portraits (despite the help of a computer program) and get hundreds of them loaded and sent out nearly every day. I submitted my photo back on the 25th of July, and they were loaded onto his Flickr on the 27th. I had to scroll back 89 pages to find the actual links (300930103011) to my photos.

These are certainly not as clear as I would have liked, but I think they’re still really pretty and fun; you can definitely make out the shape of my jawline. The middle one is definitely my favorite!

I encourage everyone to do this, even just for the novelty of having a favorite personal photo “nebulafied.” If you do it (or, by chance, have done it), post a link in the comments so I can see how yours turned out!

Happy Monday, everyone!

(All images property of Sergio Albiac, except for ‘original’ photo of me.)

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