Space comes to Normalville

From XPUB & Lens-Based wiki

What is the work about?

This is a collaborative work between myself and 1000 international artists. We are creating a work that will be launched into space as a floating exhibition, touring through various galaxies. Our hope is that it will be viewed by extraterrestrial intelligent life. Our audience is potentially trillions. Our work is being sponsored by the Indian Space Agency and will launch in 2025. Right now, we are still debating what kind of art could become comprehensible to alien life. At the heart of the exhibition is the question: can art be art for non-humans? How can we communicate the idea of art to lifeforms we have yet to encounter? We are a long way away from answering these questions. The exhibition at Normalville will consist of drawings of our plans, including how to make the work survive the conditions of space travel; maps that detail its intergalactic trajectory, including its main exhibition in Alpha Centauri; videos of the artists dis-cussing different possibilities for the art forms and their own philosophical questions; and finally, a few prototypes of art forms that we are considering.

How do you intend to engage with the local community?

The exhibition is largely didactic. It is meant to inform the community of the intentions and plans for this intergalactic show. I imagine it is of interest to anyone with a general interest in space, art, extraterrestrial life, and the legacy of humanity. We will also ask our audience for their own suggestions at the end, and of course as them to generously donate to the astronomical costs associated with such an endeavour.

What problems do you feel exist within the art world?

I think art has become quite exclusive and elitist. Many artists speak in an industry-specific language that is only accessible to those who have been trained in it. Many artists have also eschewed aesthetics (by this I mean our traditional understanding of beauty). In this sense, art has lost much of its relevance to the general population. This work is meant to speak to the most universal idea of art. This is the idea that it can speak not just to anyone but to any thing. For the audience, the exhibition asks them to question what is the value of art today. Is it worth investing millions of euros or pounds or dollars or yen into this project? Is it meaningful for us to try and communicate with aliens through art, suggesting that art can communicate along some universal principle? Do we, as a humanity, still want art to speak for us? This isn't the first time that something like this has happened. We have sent out the Golden Record, the Pioneer Plaque, and the Arecibo Message. So what has changed since then? Tesla just launched a Tesla car with an astronaut dummy into orbit. This is quite a drastic shift in our popular and cultural relationship with space that moves away from any romantic idea of hu-mans in space. Does this represent our new values? Should we instead communicate with non-human life through publicity stunts?

Give me a timescale?

I should add that the work is just a fiction. It will never go to space; it's just the idea of sending art into space. I think much of the audience in Normalville will be outraged that their tax euros are going to this. When the audience first encounters it, they must believe in its proposition. I think you need to believe in the reality of the work for it to raise real questions within you. If it is understood as art it is easily shrugged off. And although a fiction, it's not too far from reality. I already gave a few real examples. But when we encounter it as a reality it produces a lot of questions within us and even demands that we raise our voices for or against such work. The idea isn't to trick people but rather make them believe that as a general humanity we still believe in the power of art, and asks of them to believe or reject in turn. Of course, its presentation as a reality rather than art is itself an indictment of the power of art by the artists involved. My own question regarding other people's belief remains unanswered.

Some references:
The Extinction Gong:
Atomic Clock:
Art in Space exhibition:
KOSMICA Institute: