inherited a love of space from his parents who took him to see 3
Space Shuttle Launches and many landings. He built a camera
obscura to record a solar eclipse at age 10 and his love of
photography and the planets led him to record the sublimating
Northern polar ice cap of Mars in 2003.
Over the years, Tom has been an actor,
musician and concert promoter, but currently works as a
photographer in Los Angeles. Tom received a B.A. in Photography
from California State University, Northridge.
Always interested in the
intersection of science and art, Tom recently built Black Rock
Observatory, a mobile wooden observatory dedicated to outreach
that the New York Times described as "punk-rock astronomy" and the
Huffington Post called "an art-meets-science installation the Carl
Sagan would surely love."
Tom ran the third most funded
public art Kickstarter in Los Angeles and continues to share the
sky wherever he can.
The concept grew from Vardenís desire
to give back to Burning Man and be a sounding board for its creative
energy rather than a mere recipient. The Black Rock Observatory,
designed by an artist and manned by scientists, attempts to bridge
that divide. The Observatory, like Burning Man, is about getting
people to look beyond their cellphone and computer screens and get
inspired by interacting with each other in creative ways,
ďItís the realization that you walk around in 4-4 time doing, doing,
doing and you forget that ó surrender or not ólife is happening to
you. Itís bigger than you. Itís amazing, itís beautiful and itís
cacophonous,Ē he says.
ďThereís a huge, huge parallel between that and
looking through a telescope.Ē