A Message from Space. Reconstructions

2009-2019 , photo-installation , pigment print of paper , 44 sheets 18/24 cm each, dimensions variable
EA 5 + 1AP

"Space debris is turning our outer atmosphere into a trash-mosphere"
Treehugger, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (20. April 2005)

1957. Sputnik 1 was launched. This top secret satellite carried a life-sized “mannequin cosmonaut” – an ancestor to cosmonaut Ivan Ivanovich. Unfortunately, the flight of Sputnik 1 was doomed. A major malfunction caused the capsule to become incorrectly oriented... it drifted into space, trapped in its unwanted orbit until reentry.

Space debris: man-made material orbiting the earth that has outlived its useful lifetime: satellites that have become inactive; discarded rocket bodies; pieces of material jettisoned or having flaked off spacecraft; objects that are the result of collisions or explosions.

A Message from space in my Backyard. Reconstructions is a photo essay/ photo installation that is based on a research (performed years ago for a two channel video installation with the same title) that focuses on the phenomenon of space debris. Through 44 pages in texts and images, the narrative follows the short history of the presence of man in space and the chronology of space junk objects reentries to Earth at unpredictable moments and places. The facts in the story are intertwinned with excerpts from the brothers Strugatsky science fiction short novel Roadside Picnic and other refereces that help to situate the phenomenon in human cosmologies.

Disclaimer:

The work incorporates textual quotations, as well as images from Paul Maley (former NASA engineer) with the prior permision by the author. There are also images from the website of NASA (www.nasa.gov) following the "Use of NASA Imagery" quidelines.

Acknowledgments:

This work would have not be possible without the generous support of Paul Maley, Iara Boubnova, Ivaylo Ditchev.

 

excerpt from the script

[...]

May 15, 1960.
Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
A piece of Sputnik IV falls in on North 8th street. It is the first report of space debris reentry.

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A field of nouns without verbs.
It once was a creation in which form followed function, but falls back onto earth as pure form.

---

January 12, 2001.
A large fragment survived reentry after falling in Saudi Arabia. It was discovered lying in the sand, weighing some 70kg. Named PAM-D (payload assist module), The module completed its task and became space junk, eventually decaying from orbit.

---

The launch of a rocket into space used to be a glorious event. Whether from the western or eastern side of the iron curtain's point of view, we all have that glorious image printed in our memories. We all counted down at least once holding our breath. 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1.
The way back, on the contrary is a non-event. It is imageless, an immemorial act.

---

November 1, 2007.
An object was predicted for re-entry (into the Earth’s atmosphere), which would have put it near Indonesia. Instead, it ended up in the backyard of James Stirton’s cattle farm in Queensland, Australia.
The 20kg thing turned out to be a tank from a rocket, that most likely had been launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on October 26, 2006.

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In secular modernity heaven exists only as an internal space of each individual. The sky is public matter. A matter of study, conquer and exploit.

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1997, Oklahoma, US.
A woman named Lottie Williams was hit in the shoulder by a piece of blackened metallic material.
It was later confirmed to be part of a Delta II rocket which had launched a U.S. Air Force satellite in 1996.

---

Although every individual piece is the outcome of brilliant inventions, lucidly planned by human intelligence, boosted by infinite computation, their sum spells the end of Enlightenment, its resurrection as farce.

[...]

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