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boldly going, journeys with my pale blue dot
1m x 4m diameter , mixed media.
The satellite Voyager 1 left our solar system in 2012 on a voyage of discovery to the greater universe. It was launched in 1977 and took a trip around our little system of planets before heading out to the deep reaches of space, with luck it will still be sending us data till 2036 when it is estimated its power will run out. On its journey it took a pictures of amongst other planets, our earth, which on seeing it the scientist Carl Sagen termed "a pale blue dot". A term which he used as the title of a book exploring the theme of our place in the universe, a good read.
But Voyager is not just a satellite it is the embodiment of our culture at a certain point in time, all our culture that had gone into reaching that point, in effect it takes our world with it. It is a rejection of the limitations of the human spirit, instead it is the embodiment of the desire to know, to explore, to discover, and it has set its sights on the universe, there could be nothing bigger.
But given what humans are, the exploration is more than a fact finding tour. It is also a search for another pale blue dot to colonise, the continuing desire to spread our wings for destinations new.
The mobile itself is a collection of stages in our cultural development. At one end you can find geometric forms from early science, a sphere, a cube, a pyramid, a icosahedron, a rhombicosidodecahedron, a small snub icosicosidodecahedron, joined with other sundry parts make the little solar system that the Voyager satellite is leaving. But before it got there there were many other step on the way. A couple of milestones we had to pass, the first satellite in space, Sputnik, and the first landing on the moon, Apollo, sprang to my mind, together with a later developments, multi-use vehicles, space walks, the rover landing on Mars. On its journey the satellite, leaves the gods and superstition behind.
With Voyager itself I have tried to represent some of our cultural heritage. You can find a collection of vessels humanity has used to explore our world by sea, from the polynesian outriggers of those supremely accomplished sailors of the pacific to the bathyspheres that engage with the deep. There is also reference to the refugees of war seeking a new home, an aspect of our "humanity" that I hope we will leave behind.
I have also adapted the one of the arms to be a selfie stick and the cameras to be security cameras. Our obsession with self image and mistrust seem to be dominant in our culture.
I have also tried to capture the development of language, writing and mathematics, a nod to the Bauhaus, archaic cave painting and a mural by Diego Rivera. The mural of Rivera's that I have chosen is his iconic "man at the crossroads", a fresco that was destroyed by the person who commissioned it. It portays humanity at a crucial point in time, looking to a past filled with horrors of war, famine, racism, exploitation and the rise of fascism, and looking to a potential future of harmony, abundance, peace, democracy and socialism. It was painted shortly before the outbreak off the second world war and since then we have not had a period on the planet without war. Given the particular conflagrations of the moment it is a timely reminder that we as a species have a choice, we can opt for our current system of war and greed and the slow envious sink into barbarism or choose to make a different future, on where we all count.
All of that in search for another pale blue dot, for us to ruin.
The mobile was made for the exhibition "science" at the Pictorem gallery in Walthamstow, then subsequently shown at the "a new home" show in Mile End, it now resides at Inky Cuttlefish Studios in Gnome House.
For information on Voyager see www.jpl.nasa.gov/interstellarvoyager/ , or go to the Wiki entry at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot
For more information on the pale blue dot please have a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86BPM1GV8M, or google "pale blue dot".
"Pale blue dot" is also the title of Carl Sagens book about the Earths and our place in the universe.