Since the dawn of space exploration, mankind has been dreaming of the worlds that could possibly be out there, just waiting to be discovered. Would they look anything like ours? Could they be our home away from home as humans evolve into a spacefaring race in the distant future? We’ve often turned to art, guided by our limitless imagination, to answer these questions of science. It’s always fascinating to see what photographers come up with. Spanish photographer and visual artist Al Mefer, for example, takes us to worlds both alien and familiar in his whimsical two-part series aptly titled Sleepwalking in Outer Space.
Sky is the limit when it comes to visualizing alien worlds, but Mefer says we actually don’t need to go far. The landscapes that we know so well also serve as fertile playgrounds for highly imaginative minds. For this series, all he needed to do was to pick some locations that are already moody and otherworldly on their own — like Iceland’s famous Reynisdrangar rock formations — and build on that.
One of the surefire ways to make something completely alien is to paint it with hues much different than what we’re used to. Experimenting with colors in post-processing for this purpose is one of the creative tools at Mefer’s disposal. It effortlessly plays to our perception and expectations of what these places are, and evokes a sense of curiosity to explore such surreal territories.
Mefer also reinforces the fitting title with his description of the series. “Nature through the dreams of an aesthete,” he said, and it’s easy to imagine how he came up with that idea. Previously, we saw him play with the moody and experimental aesthetic to explore the “imagery of a tortured soul.” This time, he takes us to landscapes born out of his own perceptions of what alien worlds could look like. It begs the question, “In what ways could they be comparable to ours?”