Can the cosmos know themselves? A billion years ago, they consumed some light and dreamed of a pale blue dot. They are born and they die—how strange! Blue turns to red—how do they do it? What do they become?

Lightyears have passed, and yet they still have no fixed form. Exploration is in their nature.

They began as wanderers, and they are wanderers still. They have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean—they are ready at last to set sail for the stars.

Every time we open our eyes, the first thing we see is light. Our perception of existence largely depends on the abilities of our eyes. From the beginning of human consciousness, we looked at the lights around us and asked questions. I have looked up at the same stars in much the same way that my ancestors did. The question is the same, and so simple—”where are we?”

Now we are aware of the vastness of the cosmos. Compared to that immensity, our spinning planet is a speck of dust. The iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones and teeth—all of it came from the supernova explosion. We are the remnants of stars. When we question the world around us—when we ponder the vastness—are we the cosmos questioning itself?

“Stardust” is a fictional take on those wonderers who see light and space easily—those who are not limited by earthly concerns of time and distance.

—Debashish Chakrabarty

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like one of these previous features: Earth Temples, a meditation on the silence in the world’s sacred spaces; Less is More, contemplative black-and-white photographs inspired by Ansel Adams and Michael Kenna; and SPACE: Four Contemporary Interpretations, images from an exhibition on four artists’ subjective interpretations of space.