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All posts for the month May, 2011

Depicting Space Touches the Heart and Imagination

I keep hearing that space is cold and inhuman. I keep seeing people post messages around the InterTubeWeb that nobody’s interested in space exploration. I don’t know where they get these ideas, unless maybe some so-called “thought leaders” in the media and political establishments are trying to continue a meme they neither  like  nor understand. After all, space exploration requires a frame of mind that not everybody can fit into (or perhaps doesn’t want to fit into).  You don’t have to be a super athelete or test pilot to appreciate space exploration. You can be anybody with an open mind and a zest for finding out what’s “out there, thataway.”

In the week or so since we posted our video about the launch of space shuttle Endeavour, (shown below) I’ve gotten interesting and lovely feedback from people who have watched it. They are from all walks of life, and their notes have been very touching. There have also been some other very cool videos and images posted, and I’ve enjoyed those as much as my own experience at launch.

It’s like all of us space enthusiasts, all the folk who are interested in and touched by space exploration, are finding our voices by sharing our impressions of what we’ve seen. And, it’s not limited to those of us who are earthbound.

Space shuttle Endeavour docked to ISS, with Earth rotating in the background (in a long exposure). Note the stars! Courtesy NASA.

For example, this image almost looks like an impressionist painting, except that it’s a real image taken of Endeavour as it was docked to the International Space Station. The image is a  time exposure taken from the station by one of the astronauts as both connected objects whizzed overhead in its orbit. Earth’s lights are streaked, but check out those stars in the background.

It’s a dreamy, romantic-looking scene, but very much grounded in the reality and hardware of space flight. I find that it touches the viewer’s emotions in a very visceral way and, for me at least, TAKES me to that time and place.

There are more of those pictures here, if you want to be touched, as well.

Lucy West Binnall and her signed painting. Courtesy Lucy West Studios.

While following Twitter messages about the launch and mission, I ran across a lovely page about an artist named Lucy West Binnall who painted a launch piece and sent it to the astronauts at KSC.  To her great joy, they signed a copy and sent it back to her before the left on their mission. You can read her great story here.  I shared our video with her, and thus was born a nice relationship online.  I was immediately taken with her artwork and the great joy she appears to get from painting scenes from space exploration and astronomy observations.  You should check out her page and be touched, as well.

The astronauts themselves, a wide-ranging bunch of people who encompass a lot of different backgrounds, all come back to Earth and talk about how wonderful the experience is, how peaceful our planet looks from space, and so on.  Most of us know, at some deep level, that they have been profoundly changed by their experience (and some of us, me included, wish we could experience that change, too.).

Some, such as Alan Bean, have gone on to create artwork depicting space and exploration.  Others from all the world’s space agencies have shared their experiences through smashingly good talks that really touch people’s imaginations about going up to space. They’re people like you and me, more experienced in the spaceways, perhaps, but nonetheless, giving a human face to space exploration.

The Endeavour astronauts have posted a tribute to their space ship, which you can see here at a link just posted last night and making its way around the IntarWebs today (and you’re getting it straight from them as they were orbiting Earth)!

Finally, someone at NASA came up with this art-music-science mix tribute to the mission as well:

I would imagine that you can find many, many more instances of space depicted in a positive, artful, media-driven way. Do a little search and see what you find! It’s a sort of meta-exploration of space exploration and humanity’s artful interpretation of the cosmos from whence we all have come. Enjoy!

Improv-Style

A press shot of the crew of the ISS in monochrom's ISS.

What randy band of improv artists based in Vienna has as their show motto: “In space no one can hear you complain about your job”?  Why, the folks at monochrom’s ISS show, a funny, irreverant and sometimes NSFW (a little profanity now and again, so if such offends you, don’t watch)  improvisation-based show on the Web depicting life on the International Space Station.

This is a ten-part show that is part improv, part reality-sitcom showing how the fictional crew of the station must come up with strategies to deal with surprise situations in their space-bound habitat.  it’s humorous and smart, and puts a very human face on the ups and downs of living in space.

The show’s producers/directors, Johannes Grenzfurthner and Roland Gratzer, have relied on material from NASA and ESA to create the scenarios their actors work through.  The show’s acting troupe includes Jeff Ricketts (Star Trek: Enterprise, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly), Maciej Salamon (Musicals: Barbarella, Tanz der Vampire, Sweeney Todd), Claire Tudela (Carmen, Musical: The Producers), Geoff Pinfield (Aoterroroa, Lovepuke).

Check out this inventive group’s Web page for past episodes and news about the next production. You can see all their episodes at monochrom’s ISS.