In a place called Loving, in New Mexico, there’s a nuclear waste dump – a set of huge caverns sunk into 250 million year old rock salt. dry and unmoving, it is a nice safe crystalline tomb. Trucks come and drop off giant barrels full of radioactive waste, most of which consists of human-sized things: contaminated gloves, mop-heads, paper towels, overalls and tools, although some of it is sludge and soil.
One day these holes will be full, and they’ll be sealed up. They’ll start a 10 000 year transformation until finally, one day, all the waste will stop radiating and will be safe again.
The US government has thought long and hard about this tip. It commissioned a report and got a lot of people to think about sending a message into the future:
“something manmade is here”.
“something manmade is here and it is dangerous”.
DO NOT DIG.
A physicist wondered if the markers were necessary. The clearest message of all was the poisonous waste itself. People who disturb the area will get sick and die, their families and animals will move away. He was right, but that was not the point. Others wanted to build something so large and impressive that future people would be in awe of it, would revere it and would not want to disturb it. Pyramids were mentioned.
They made diagrams of the strata of the earth that the waste sat in, from the bottom up:
BELL CANYON FORMATION CASTILE FORMATION MCNUTT POTASH ZONE (repository level) SALADO FORMATION RUSTLER FORMATION containing UNNAMED, CULEBRA, TAMARISK, MAGENTA, FORTY NINER DEWEY LAKE RED BEDS
Like constellations you pass on your way to another galaxy.
They thought about communication, civilisations rising and falling, language changing, symbols losing their meaning. They drew pictures of sickened faces and skulls and crossbones and Munch’s ‘The Scream’, and talked about ‘menacing earthworks’ – pointy, unwelcoming.
They used the stars for navigation. When the Big Dipper looks like this (constellations slowly remoulding themselves over time as the earth’s path changes) you’ll know that everything is safe again. Look at Sirius, Canopus, Arcturus and Vega, the brightest stars you can see. Their positions will tell you how long there is to go.
When the time comes and there is no more room for deliveries, they will build earthworks, plant stones, satellite reflectors and magnets, write explanations and draw pictures, and they will launch a message of anti-preciousness to the alien humans of the future. Those planning the journey called it the marking of an “un-treasure”. An un-golden voyage about hope and chance and futility and redundancy and the idea that something will actually be there to find the message, and it will be a bit like us.
Melissa Deerson is an interdisciplinary artist and writer whose work explores the blurry boundaries between human and non-human domains.
Online she can be found at www.melissadeerson.com and meldeerson.tumblr.com.
by Heath Britton
-Space Art will show the good the bad and the ugly of the human race and earth
-Space Art will show the stupendous intellect of human beings
-Space Art will show the isolation inherent in human perception
-Space Art will make clear the short comings of human senses
-Space Art will convey human emotion in its entirety
-Space Art will not use language either verbal or written
-Space Art will be for all the audiences in the universe be they: Tripods, Time Lords, Black Holes, Gases, Sentient clouds of iron vapour, Genderless Worlds, God, water worlds, unintelligent life forms, intelligent machines or The Overlords.
-Space Art is by humans for humans
-Space Art will not take itself seriously
-Space Art will involve laughter
-Space Art will convey all the most important parts of being a human or other earthly being
-Space Art will not exclude religion
-Space Art will be enjoyed by humans
-Space Art will be The Art, the only and most important Art of our time or the future
-Space Art will be absurd
-Space Art will not be made lightly
-Space Art will include a unified theory of physics
-Space Art will be disease free
-Space Art will include tits, balls, cocks and cunts
-Space Art and life will be indistinguishable from each other
-Space Art will be about love and nothing else
Make space art with the welfare of the earth at the forefront of your mind.
How much will future humans (or extraterrestrials) have in common with contemporary society or our millennia?
When we gaze upward and outward, in what ways do we use the skies as a mirror or reflection of our dreams, aspirations, fears and anxieties, or contemporary unease about our world?
What’s the space amid truth and illusion, or clarity and obscurity, or infinity and the past?
What’s held in the gap in between internet transmissions, or diverse cultures, or genders, or ‘other’ species, or contexts alien to one another?
When does language become inadequate?
What’s in a name, a title, a category?
What’s the difference between documenting and communicating.
What’s in a blink, a squint, a scowl, a smile, a smirk, a jerk, a look away or a forward gesture?
How do we perceive the ‘other’? How do we interact with the ‘other’? How do we greet the ‘other’? When does a greeting imply the opposite?
Would our encounter with galactic ‘aliens’ differ to greeting eccentric earthlings (or challenging art); would we cut them more slack for being light years away from our contrived ‘acceptable’ human codes of being, confinements and inhibitions?
How would/does our (in)‘tolerance’ rate?
How open or closed are we?
Can we ever elude the affect of any experience?
Do our imaginings hold more than our concrete realities, about our ambitions, paranoias, fears and fetishes, frailties and strengths, our mythologies, hypocrisies, and perspectives around our future legacies?
How important is it to be understood, and not misunderstood?
To what degree is the Body an agent for Culture?
To what extent is art a channel for change, or mode for meaning; a way to probe, unpack and reassemble minute to monolithic enigmas about who, how, where and why we are?
When did time begin? What is infinity? How do we fit in, fit together, fall apart?
Rather than hurtling toward conclusions, at a rate of blinding knots, is posing more questions the key to finding worthwhile meaning and which direction to take next?
Forever Now: Workshopping the Infinite
*In May 2013, I accompanied Willoh S Weiland – Forever Now’s fearless Project Director – to Vitalstatistix in Adelaide, where we held a 10-day artist laboratory to develop the project. Working with an intrepid group of ten South Australian artists we workshopped, argued, hypothesised, dreamed, pondered, imagined, and – finally – made, a series of responses to the core creative provocations of Forever Now. The artists we worked with represented a richly diverse crosssection of practices, from filmmakers to theatre directors, visual artists, writers, landscape architects and beyond, and some of their responses coalesced in the form of texts. These writings crossed the borders of fiction, non-fiction, reflection and speculation, as they engaged with broad-ranging and difficult ideas about time, space, and the role of art in the (literally!) expanding field of the universe. We also explored the form, content and context of the original Voyager Golden Record. With the privilege of hindsight, we unpacked this strange and wondrous gesture, asking ourselves what it would mean to revisit this intervention at the beginning of the 21st Century. These writings, presented as a window into some of the key questions, contexts, and motivations that weave in and out of Forever Now. We thank the artists for their incredible enthusiasm, their tireless hard work, and the terrific depth and breadth of their ideas. Their commitment to the project and indomitable spirit of adventure made the laboratory a wonderfully enjoyable and successful experience. * Jeff Khan, Forever Now Curator
The year 1977 (MCMLXXVII) was a common year starting on a Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. It was also the 1977th year of the Common Era, the 977th year of the 2nd millennium, the 77th year of the 20th century, and the 8th year of the 1970s.
In 1977 the world’s first personal computer, the Commodore PET was produced,
Apple was incorporated.
Annie Hall won Best Picture.
Jimmy Carter became president.
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album was released.
The World Health Organisation officially announced Smallpox eradicated.
Anita Bryant is ‘pied’ on live television. The Australian Democrat party was formed…
And on August 20 and September 5 the Voyager 2 and Voyager 1 were launched.
Voyager 1 and 2 are unmanned space probes launched by NASA to investigate outer space and the planets in our solar system. Voyager 2, launched first, took advantage of an unusual planetary alignment (once every 177 years) that allowed the space probe to fly by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Voyager 1 was launched after Voyager 2, on a quicker and more direct route to Jupiter and Saturn as well as making an important fly-by of the Saturnian moon Titan.
On board both Voyager probes are copies of the Voyager Golden Records. These are phonographic records constructed from gold plated brass and contain a carefully curated selection of sound and images representing what the curatorial team saw as a cross section of relevant human culture and achievement. The curatorial team was led by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his team selected 115 images and a selection of music and sounds to send on the record. The images ranged from illustrations of the human reproduction system to a group enjoying a lovely meal. The soundtrack included greetings in 59 languages, natural sounds of the Earth as well as a selection of music from around the world. This selection included ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ written and performed by Chuck Berry, resulting in the Saturday Night Live skit in which Steve Martin – playing a psychic – predicts the upcoming cover of Time Magazine will feature the words ‘Send more Chuck Berry’. Each record is encased in a protective aluminium jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle.
The Voyager spacecraft are not heading towards any particular star, but Voyager 1 will be within 1.6 light years of the star Gliese 445, currently in the constellation Camelopardalis, in about 40,000 years. 2013 (MMXIII) is a common year that started on a Tuesday and is the current year. In the Gregorian calendar, it is the 2013th year in the CE and AD designations; the 13th year in the 3rd millennium and the 21st century; and the 4th of the 2010s.
In 2013 North Korea conducted its third underground nuclear test. Margaret Thatcher died. Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy. France passed gay marriage laws.
On 27th May 2013 ten artists, thinkers and curators gathered for the first time under the guidance and leadership of Willoh S. Weiland and Jeff Khan to begin the process of a next chapter in the Voyager epic. Forever Now is the creation of a new, alternative, exciting, exploding, radical, sweaty version of the voyager record. Forever Now will be sent into space. Forever Now is in progress. We are Forever Now. This is Forever Now.