Firesculpting Aurora
Image from Steve Bowers
A sculpted auroral display high in the sky above Corona

Firesculpting is a form of high-tech artwork involving the use of various methods such as anti-matter explosives, high energy lasers, modified halo drives, and conversion replicator swarms to induce solar flares and coronal mass ejections in a star for the purpose of creating large, long-lived, but tightly controlled auroral displays around one or more of the local planets.

Firesculpting begins by first triggering a large solar flare or coronal mass ejection in a local star and then using magnetic field generators and other devices to manipulate a planetary magnetic field to control and shape the auroral displays that are created when the charged particles from the star impact the field some hours or days later. Using powerful magmatter based field generators operating in close planetary orbit or even tunnelling through the planetary core it is possible for a skilled artist to not only produce especially energetic versions of a planetary auroral display but to actually shape fairly complex and concrete shapes in the plasma cloud.

Perhaps the greatest challenge to any firesculpting practitioner is to produce effects that are aesthetically pleasing when seen from both the planetary surface and from orbit. Different schools of critics, aesthetes, and generally interested parties often argue vehemently over the issue of which viewpoint is superior, the High or the Low.

Firesculptors are almost always transapients, generally of at least Second Singularity, although a small number of lower toposophics, some of them even modosophont, have had notable success at the art when gifted with the necessary devices. These lower singularity practitioners tend to be short-lived in their careers however as the drive to improve their art almost always leads them to rapidly ascend to higher toposophics so that they may more readily control their tools.

The majority of inhabited systems rarely, if ever, permit firesculpting exhibitions to take place within them due to the extensive protections that must be put in place to prevent damage to the local infrastructure. The massive solar disturbances required for the art can disrupt computation, communication, and transport networks for months if proper precautions are not taken and many systems are uncomfortable with the idea of tinkering with their local star simply for "entertainment purposes". For this reason the majority of firesculpting takes place in uninhabited and unused systems or in systems set aside especially for the practice, with the results transmitted by Known Net link across the civilized galaxy.

A notable exception to this is the system of Corona where firesculpting is considered an especially beautiful artform and a fitting tribute to the world's namesake. The great millennial celebrations of the founding of the system are of particular note for their several weeks long displays during which many new artists attempt to make a name for themselves while more established practitioners continue to demonstrate their mastery.

By a tradition that is now well on its way toward being five thousand years old, each millennial celebration culminates with the display across the entire system of The Music of Fire, created by the Third Singularity intellect T'charion by triggering a massive solar flare that is manipulated to sequentially produce identical displays in the magnetic fields of Corona and both of the systems gas giants as well as in the protective magnetic envelopes of the local Bishop Rings. Still considered a masterpiece even thousands of years after its debut, the work is generally treated as a sort of visual national anthem by the Coronan population.
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Development Notes
Text by Todd Drashner
Initially published on 23 June 2007.