When Carl Sagan said that “we’re made of star stuff,” he wasn’t being metaphoric. He was simply noting—in his uniquely precise and poetic way—that the raw materials that constitute our physical bodies were forged in the bellies of distant, long-extinguished stars.

The photographer Ignacio Torres has made this insight visual. In his gorgeous images—presented as animated GIFs as a nod to the cosmic movement of space and time—he transforms Sagan’s world-altering perspective into something immediate and unnerving. His photographs show people bursting out of the primordial dust (really, reflective confetti) that birthed us all. He has made a beautiful theoretical insight look alluring and beautiful as well. One expects that Sagan would approve.

» View the  Star Stuff Made Real Slide Show