It has been one year since music legend David Bowie passed away, and fans continue to analyze his parting gift: Blackstar. Bowie’s final album—released two days before his death and presumed to be a farewell to fans when he learned of his terminal cancer diagnosis—contains a bevy of hidden gems within the artwork.
According to Spin, one of the most notable Easter eggs hidden in the artwork is the geometric star on the album’s cover, which displays the image of a starry night sky when it is exposed to sunlight. Other Bowie fans have analyzed the portrait of the late singer next to the lyrics to “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” which apparently changes when it is held at a certain angle in the sunlight. And Spin notes that other fans have endlessly analyzed the Pioneer plaques, linking the art to the late singer’s fascination with outer space and aliens, as well as the five fragmented stars at the bottom of the Blackstar cover, which some think spell out Bowie’s last name.
Even after all of that, the rock magazine points out that graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook recently told an interviewer that there is “one big thing which people haven’t discovered yet on the album.” In other words: Keep searching and analyzing.
Ahead of the one-year anniversary of Bowie’s death, a new documentary about the singer, titled David Bowie: The Last Five Years, focuses on Blackstar and hints that that album may not have been deliberately created as a farewell to fans. Director Francis Whately told the Guardian he is still unsure if Bowie started working on Blackstar before he knew he was ill.
“People are so desperate for Blackstar to be this parting gift that Bowie made for the world when he knew he was dying but I think it’s simplistic to think that,” Whatley said. “There is more ambiguity there than people want to acknowledge. I don’t think he knew he was going to die.”
Indeed, while the music video for the Blackstar track “Lazarus” is set in a hospital bed and features Bowie starting off with the line “Look up here, I’m in heaven,” the video was apparently conceived before the music icon knew his cancer was terminal. Director Johan Renck revealed that he that he came up with the video’s concept a week before Bowie learned of his prognosis and he never intended it to be a deathbed scene.
“I immediately said ‘the song is called ‘Lazarus,’ you should be in the bed,'” Renck said. “To me, it had to do with the biblical aspect of it…it had nothing to do with him being ill.”
It was during the filming of “Lazarus” that Bowie received the dire diagnosis that he had three months to live. The singer left the world on Jan. 10, 2018, two days after Blackstar was released.
David Bowie would have turned 70-years-old on Jan. 8, 2017.