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Voyager by Jess Miley

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

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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.

Jess Miley

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