In Quito – Arte en Orbita: an Exhibit Examining the Democratization of Space Exploration

[highlight color=#999999 ]Arte en Órbita
Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Quito
March 7 – June 6, 2015
admission free[/highlight]

What does documentation of UFO sightings in Ecuador, a proposal to merge Cuba and Quebec into a new political entity and Bolivia’s Tupac Katari telecommunications satellite have in common?

A collective space and voice for starters, at Arte en Orbita, an exhibit at the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Quito which despite its outward whimsical flair, raises some important questions about the democratization of space exploration, its commercialization and its great north-south / rich-poor divide.

Since man first stared into the night sky, the exhibit’s introduction reminds us, outer space has provided the brain food for humankind’s collective imagination, helped create its mythologies and fostered its scientific research and discovery. With more than 1,100 active satellites orbiting the planet at any given time –along with some 2,500 that no longer function– that relationship remains as true and vital now as ever.

Well before the dawn of colonization, the Ecuadorean capital was already serving as a center of astronomical observation. With the recent launching of Pegaso and Krysaor, the country’s first commercial satellites, the city provides a timely setting from which to attempt to generate a link between the ancient tools used to help understand the cosmos to modern technologies whose proliferation, wide availability and relative low cost can reconnect humankind to space in a more participatory and democratic way.

That’s one of the basic premises of Arte en Orbita, or Art in Orbit, curated by Fabiane Morais Borges, a Brazilian psychologist who researches space culture, satellites and space imagery, and Barcelona native Pedro Soler, a digital artist now based in Medellín.

A few notes:

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One thoughtful focus, through the use of an assortment of texts, photos, videos and other installations, falls upon so-called independent space programs, including those of Palestine and Quebec, which exist without satellites or an actual presence in outer space.

Another falls on exposure to space through sound, of planets and satellites. At top, from the reading and video collection of early 20th century pop culture interpretations of space, space travel and exploration.

 

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Above is CUBEC, a new nation state that would be the result of a utopian notion proposed by the Rhinoceros Party of Canada –a satirical but officially registered political party for three decades– to join Quebec and Cuba, a connection that would be maintained through an encrypted link provided by the CHE-WAN satellite.

 

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Above, a photo installation of UFO sightings throughout Ecuador.

 

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Above, South Korean artist Song Hojun, founder of the Open Source Satellite Initiative (OSSI), an effort to build an entirely DIY space program.

For the Art in Orbit-curious, a few more links:

 

 

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