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The Individual

The Individual


rice grain

Moon Gallery, Nanoracks, Voyager Space

With this work I challenge others to think about how they fit into an indifferent Universe. Does its emptiness provide a canvas where change is possible or are we in perfect equilibrium? By hand- painting a human figure on a rice grain the viewer is confronted by the limits of their own scale to see the image and by the scale at which the human is represented in the larger Universe. Even though the figure is small and alone in a vast emptiness they are capable of standing out and creating visible change.

This feeling of miniscule scale and the question of genuine impact represent a connection between astronomy and philosophy that I visualize through art as a way of reminding us of this dissonance and to eventually come to terms with it. Humans struggle with comprehending the vastness of space and this incomprehension can be unsettling. Accepting the small magnitude of our existence is an important step in forming a more comfortable relationship with scale and the Universe.

Using a brush made from carbon nanotube thread and a microscope, I'm able to paint at a scale limited only by the precision of my hand movement. The figures are just barely distinguishable to the naked eye. The rice as a seed is a canvas and an element capable of profound impact in large quantities. How does it feel that the Universe contains scales at which a human, the Earth, and even the Solar System become indistinguishable?

Technical information:

Artwork name:

The Individual




Jack Madden



This work is part of the following collection:

Moon Gallery

rice grain



1 x 1 x 1 cm



IAAA Art Style:

Launch vehicle / mission:

Antares 230+ / NG-17 Cygnus resupply mission

Host spacecraft / hardware:

International Space Station



Launch location:

NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia

Launch date:

19 Feb 2022

Orbit / space location:

LEO, International Space Station (ISS)

Return vehicle:

SpaceX Dragon 2

End date:

11 January 2023



Client / Agency:

Moon Gallery, Nanoracks, Voyager Space


Jack Madden

Astrophysicist, artist


Jack Madden


Moon Gallery


Moon Gallery


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