• Satellite's Gone: Materialities of the Space Race, Atmospheric Politics, Drifting Clouds

Curran, Fiona, 2016, Conference or Workshop, Satellite's Gone: Materialities of the Space Race, Atmospheric Politics, Drifting Clouds at Speeding and Braking: Navigating Acceleration, Goldsmiths University of London, 12-15 May 2016.

Abstract or Description:

Vija Celmins Untitled (Desert/Galaxy) from 1974, presents a dual image drawing of a dark night sky filled with stars and other illuminated celestial objects juxtaposed with a close-cropped view of a desert floor. This image acts as a provocation to trace the entangled histories of the Cold War ‘space race’ with the development of satellite technologies and atmospheric/meteorological monitoring. Any analysis of this historic era of manned space exploration cannot now be separated from the accelerated development of the computing and information technologies that have shaped the contemporary technosphere. It also highlights the expansion of environmental monitoring that led, paradoxically, to a greater understanding of climate change and the planetary impacts of new technologies. A picture emerges of the material significance of the earthbound landscapes that supported the growth of these technologies and their extra terrestrial destinations recoupling the earth with the sky, proximity with distance, and speed with slowness.

The NASA images of Earth from space (Earthrise, 1968 and Blue Marble, 1972) are considered in relation to Peter Sloterdijk’s redeployment of the 1960s concept of Earth as a ‘spaceship’ in order to map a non-anthropocentric atmospheric politics that offers a “trans-human symbiosis” based on environmental reciprocity. Weaving together historical/temporal dimensions and geographical locations through the material/immaterial metaphor of the cloud, the paper concludes with artist Craigie Horsfield’s cloud tapestries (2008), woven translations of film stills of the sky taken from his earlier social film project that took place on the island of El Hiero in 2002. This island marked the original location of the zero line of longitude and point from which the Europeans navigated their ships to the ‘new’ world marking an originary moment of global circulation and capital expansion.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design > W990 Creative Arts and Design not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Design
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 15:18
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2021 16:13
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2097
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