纽约时报 | 漂浮于太空的艺术品

The artworks floating above the Earth 漂浮于太空的艺术品 On the […]

The artworks floating above the Earth

On the timeline of human history, we’ve been exploring outer space for just the short blip of a few decades. But long before we launched satellites out of our atmosphere, artists imagined escaping our humble planet to aspire toward the heavens. Military defence spending and science have driven our exploration, though artists have continued to be instrumental catalysts in our quest to conquer the unknown, because they imagine the future before it happens C as the saying goes, life imitates art. Today, artists are joining in the space race, imagining the mysterious vacuum beyond our atmosphere as the next museum or gallery space.


The artist known as Nahum resists the idea that space is ours to conquer. He argues that artists must be included in the conversation about how we explore space or else humanity C namely rich countries with well-funded aerospace programs C risk making the same mistakes the colonising empires made in the past. Who owns the surface of the Moon or a comet and has the right to exploit minerals or precious metals there? Fundamental aspects of our culture such as land ownership and borders are called into question as soon as we leave Earth, says the artist. “If [artists] have different skills and ways of understanding the world, we can only enrich the conversation,” he tells BBC Culture.


Artists are, for the first time since scientists overcame the incessant pull of gravity to break free from Earth’s atmosphere, beginning to imagine outer space as a platform for art. What does art look like after Earth? On 29 June 2018, years in the making, Nahum’s long-time dream came true when he launched a one-of-a-kind interactive sculpture into orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket bound for the International Space Station (ISS). Back on Earth, the artist orchestrated performances that allowed the audience to interact with the sculpture on the ISS, bringing the audience here on Earth closer to space, says Nahum.


Is space a place for art?


Space should also be used as a cultural laboratory, says Nahum, which is why his new project is especially designed around interaction with space. By interacting with the sculpture on board the ISS, viewers on Earth will feel as if outer space is more accessible, he says. The work is about the interconnectedness of all things, on a cosmic scale but also here on Earth; the interpretation of the unknown as part of what we don’t see but what is inevitably part of the totality of our existence. “Sometimes I think of space as a black canvas,” he says.


Other artists like Trevor Paglen, Tavares Strachan and Makoto Azuma have also conceived projects created specifically for outer space. On 3 December 2018 Paglen’s Orbital Reflector, made in collaboration with the Nevada Museum of Art, and Strachan’s Enoch, in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) were launched into space after multiple scrapped attempts. The two works hitched a ride aboard the same SpaceX rocket.

佩格伦(Trevor Paglen)、斯特拉昌(Tavares Strachan)和日本艺术家东信(Makoto Azuma)等艺术家,也都构思了为外太空创作的作品。2018年12月3日,佩格伦与内华达美术馆(Nevada Museum of Art)合作的《轨道反射器》(Orbital Reflector),以及斯特拉昌与洛杉矶县美术馆(Los Angeles County Museum of Art)合作的《伊诺克》(Enoch),在多次失败后,也被送入太空。这两件作品搭乘的是同一个SpaceX火箭。

At first, Paglen’s sculpture might look like a scientific satellite, but it is in fact purely aesthetic and aspirational. The project sparked protest among astronomers who claimed that the highly reflective object would obstruct scientific observation. Nahum refutes their claim, though the project is among the first that calls into question the issue of who has a legal right to space or who owns Earth’s orbit. Why should scientists have unlimited reign? Why can’t artists, or anyone else for that matter, have equal access to this new frontier?


Strachan’s space sculpture looks more like what you might expect to see in a museum C a bust of Robert Henry Lawrence Jr, the first African American ever selected for the US space program. Lawrence died in a plane crash while still in training to become an astronaut and never realised his dream of going to space, until Strachan’s sculpture put him there after the fact. The launch of Nahum, Paglen and Strachan’s space sculptures marks a turning point for artworks in outer space, with three works by three separate artists orbiting around our planet at this very moment.

斯特拉昌的太空雕塑看起来则更像是那种你会在美术馆里看到的东西,一具小罗伯特•亨利•劳伦斯(Robert Henry Lawrence Jr)的半身像。劳伦斯是第一个入选美国太空计划的非裔美国人,在进行宇航员培训时即死于空难,因而从未有机会实现进入太空的梦想,直到斯特拉昌的作品进入太空。纳胡姆、佩格伦和斯特拉昌的太空雕塑,标志着外太空艺术品的一个里程碑。此时此刻,三位艺术家的三件作品正绕着我们的地球旋转。

Paglen says that he designed the space sculpture to encourage those of us bound by gravity on Earth to look up with a renewed sense of wonder. “What I like about space exploration, is that most of the time it’s about Earth,” says Nahum. In other words, these projects, though they are extra-terrestrial in nature, are meant to bring us together. Nearly every satellite ever made points toward Earth. In fact, the first camera ever launched into space took a picture not of the stars, but of Earth. Migration and nationalism are broken down when we imagine a future where we will simply say, “I’m from Earth,” says Nahum. Beyond science or even science fiction, art can provoke new ways of looking outward into the heavens and also inward to our collective consciousness.


Art in space: A 50-year history


Nahum, originally from Mexico City but now working in Berlin, has been exploring space as a subject matter and a destination in his art for nearly a decade. “As artists, we have the responsibility to engage in whatever our subject matter is,” he says. For a 2015 exhibition in Mexico City, The Matters of Gravity, Nahum along with a small group of artists travelled to Russia to experience the closest thing to zero gravity that we have on Earth: parabolic flight. Conceived as part of astronaut training and for scientific research, parabolic flights allow for short 30-second near zero-gravity experiences, through a specific series of manoeuvres aboard a specially designed airplane. Nahum and the other artists were the first to undertake artistic experiments in a zero-gravity environment. The results were displayed at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in the form of audio, video and sculpture.

纳胡姆来自墨西哥城,目前以柏林为创作基地,近10年来,他一直在探索将太空作为艺术创作的主题和目标。他说,“作为艺术家,我们有责任从事任何主题创作。”为了筹备2015年他在墨西哥城的展览《重力状态》(The Matters of Gravity),纳胡姆和几位艺术家前往俄罗斯,感受地球上最接近零重力状态的体验:抛物线失重飞行。作为宇航员训练和科学研究的一部分,特别设计的飞机进行一系列特定动作的飞行,当进入抛物线飞行时,飞机上可以体验到30秒的失重感觉。纳胡姆等艺术家是第一批在失重环境下进行艺术实验的人。实验结果以音频、视频和雕塑的形式,在墨西哥城艺术宫(Palacio de Bellas Artes)展出。

In 2017 Azuma made space feel closer by recreating the art history standard of the still life with a bouquet of flowers hovering in the outer edges of the atmosphere. His works were necessarily impermanent, as if to suggest the fragile and temporary nature of everything alive and organic in the great cosmos, even the planet that we call home. So again, the artist’s exploration in space comes back to our life on Earth.


Azuma’s approach to reaching space was decidedly more DIY. Rather than launch his bouquets into space aboard a rocket, the arrangements were secured to gigantic balloons, reaching heights 100,000 feet above the Nevada desert. At -60C, the flowers began to break apart in the outer atmosphere before falling to Earth like colourful confetti. The photographic documentation is the only evidence of the adventure, capturing the grey area where Earth ends and space begins. The project called EXOBIOTANICA offers a poetic exploration of space, as if to say, we must dive into the unknown only if we bring beauty with us.


The history of art in space stretches back further than the last few years however. Two of the most famous aerospace missions, Voyager 1 and 2, identical spacecraft designed to reach the outer edges of our galaxy, carry with them two golden records full of art. After their launch in 1977, they continue to careen ever further into the unknown. With every second they become the farthest human-made objects from Earth ever. In December 2018, Voyager 2 left our Solar System, nearly 18 billion km (11 billion miles) from Earth, following Voyager 1, which left our Solar System in 2012. Truly one-of-a-kind, the Voyager project epitomises the striving spirit of humanity reaching outward with a message of beauty and human creativity. Each golden disk contains a message to a potential extra-terrestrial civilisation that might discover the spacecraft: images, music, and greetings in many languages from around the world.


Carl Sagan, charged with the impossible task of curating the content of the golden record to represent all human civilisation, called the disk “Earth's greatest hits; a gift across the cosmic ocean from one island of civilisation to another”. In the four decades following, there has been no greater undertaking of art in space. Our exploration of the cosmos, whether artistic or brutal, is ultimately an exploration of our soul and the interconnectedness of the universe.

萨根(Carl Sagan)负责策划这张黄金唱片的内容,这似乎是一个不可能的任务,因为要代表所有的人类文明。他称这张唱片“是地球上最伟大的唱片,是跨越宇宙的海洋,从一个文明孤岛到另一个文明孤岛的礼物”。在之后的40多年里,再也没有比这更伟大的太空艺术作品了。我们对宇宙的探索,无论是以艺术的还是野蛮的方式,最终都是对我们自身灵魂的探索,是对宇宙间相互联系的探索。

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