Thanks for the encouragement -- my head is brimming with ideas -- I cannot tell you how I'm buzzing along -- it will be several weeks before I have something to show, but I think you'll find it interesting ... watch this space :-)
We can't ask the artist, so the question of what The Swoosh represented to him is unanswerable unless he wrote it down somewhere. What it represents to you is whatever you want it to represent. I see no problem in that.
I don't think of it representing anything in particular. It's just a lovely part of a lovely work to be admired for itself and its contribution to the whole work.
And my opinion combined with a couple of dollars might buy you a cup of coffee which is OK, too.
Max, if you want to try it in different colors, go for it. As you say, until you glue down the tiles, it's not set in, uh, epoxy? You'll have a ton of fun trying different colors which is the point of the exercise, is it not? And if you can't better "the answer in the back of the book", you can always fall back on that and get a fine result.
If you haven't seen this and you like this painting (obviously) then have a look: http://vimeo.com/36466564 or do a search for "van gogh starry night animated." He used OpenFrameworks and c++ to create it. Fun for us diehard c++ programmers.
I always thought that the swoosh was an interpretation of Yin and Yang and that the aurora was named after the painting? The Don McLean song talks about how the world is different to different people.
B.T.W is there going to be a hidden turn table which plays the song when it detects someone humming it?
An interesting point you make with the aurora resemblance to the Van Goh's swoosh, but I have to agree with the early assement, that was also my immediate thought, as I took anoter look at that spot on the Starry nigth depiction.
To me it is the magic of a brigth nigth, that can take your breath away as it pulls your imagination with the forces that must be present that keeps everything in balance.