Colonizar el universo Sending something into space as a statement of humanity at first overwhelmed me, it felt like a great responsibility to do a representative piece. Soon after I understood that whatever manifestation made by humans was representative enough, especially if it was among other works from diverse artists from around the globe. What caught me was the double lecture of the gesture: it is on one hand a message for other life forms out there, and on the other hand it is a cultural product with a purpose towards Earthlings. At this point a main concern was to work on something that could be equally meaningful for both sides. To include language in the work never was a worry since it is still a mystery what kind of perception capabilities exists out there, the range is all possibility in the vastness of the cosmos. While doing some research, more and more I become surprised at how badly we want to inhabit outside our planet, and the question about the background motivation kept popping in my mind over and over. Since ever, we have been very curious about the universe, hoping to find in its observation the answers to the most mysterious questions of our existence and the unyielding binomial life-death. Never before have humans been so aware of its fragility as species. Never before have we had such a consciousness about the fragility of the Earth’s environment and how a very small event (on a geological scale) could produce conditions that would lead to humankind’s extinction. So I wondered how much is our human survival instinct speaking through our efforts in conquering space.
Can’t we just peacefully disappear?
I came across a document about reproduction in space with the concept of colonizing the universe, nothing new, but it made me think about the implication of colonization within our planet. Observing historical examples of this phenomena, from mining and natural resources exploitation, to slavery or cultural globalization and decreasing of diversity, made pretty obvious the way it will happen outside Earth. Taking into account that the technology and knowledge to perform physical space traveling is in the most powerful hands and that historically these nations are not known for their respectful approach to the otherness but rather to a violent, imposing, and plundering way. The colonial thinking stands to defeat nature as the big challenge of progress and military and business interests are ahead. Can we trust it can be otherwise?
What I decided to contribute with the Forever Now project is to state very basic information about humans for possible universal audiences, and also to pose a question toward us: Do we really want to colonize the Universe? So I went from “humans are thinking on colonizing the universe” to “humans want to colonize the universe” and finally “to colonize the universe” colonizar el universo.
A decrepit billboard structure seamed to be a very pertinent format to display this information. Advertising represents the basis of persuasion in the consumption era. Its actual ruined state reminds us of the failure of the economical and cultural colonization. It is located in 15km east from San Miguel de Allende in México, placed on a side of an interstate road and under a high voltage power line both elements representing the pursuits of progress, once the notion of the future. The new future is the colonization of the Universe.
I’m also interested on the fact that another entity apart from humans was the one stating it, while studying the options I thought of the sun as our greatest witness and main provider of energy. Can we even hide something from it? It knows us from scratch. The fire is the release of the solar rays once arrived to Earth contained in this case in oil derivates. It also appeals to a sense of urgency and emergency.
The process of making the piece was quite particular. At the beginning it seemed to be a fairly simple thing to accomplish, but we had a series of setbacks in the way. Action was repeated four times, and every time, despite our tests, preparations and preventive measures problems kept popping out: weather conditions changing unexpectedly, strange electronic equipment failures, letters disappearing overnight, etc. It felt like a chat with the universe: there was always a response for each action. The highlight was one late night, while producing the letters in the workshop for the third time, a massive noise shook us, an object came down from the sky making a hole in the asbestos sheet roof the size of a lemon. It took us a while to understand what had happened, as much as I searched I never found that object in the disordered place. The hole was just over the letters that were laying on the floor.
It could be either a lost bullet or a meteorite, both equal in probabilities but far away in meaning. Could the Universe have something to say about human colonization?
Ivan Puig San Miguel de Allende, July of 2014
Ivan Puig (1977 Mexico) spent his first years between the streets of a city, the tropical jungle and the car junks. He did studies in electronics and Fine Arts.
The line that connects his works is the critical perspective and the humour present in his social environment observations. Indignation and wonder has been important triggers.
One of his actual concerns is the time consuming collateral activities related to the professionalisation of art such as writing biographies in third person.