Artist's project to blast gold-plated artifact disc into orbit
'The Last Pictures' disc, which could circle the Earth for billions of years, contains just 100 black and white photos
Computerworld - The problem: You want to send images into space and you want them to last 5 billion years. The solution: A gold-plated disc.
That's the idea behind The Last Pictures project, which is scheduled to blast off in the next few months.
The project involves attaching a silicon disc encased in gold to the outside of a communications satellite. The disc will include just 100 etched photos, which are meant to be a cultural artifact for aliens to find if mankind is no longer here when they come knocking.
The disc, designed by researchers at MIT and Carleton College, is filled with images chosen by artist Trevor Paglen and a team he put together, who are working with the nonprofit arts organization Creative Time and the media and satellite company EchoStar.
The golden artifact is hitching a ride on the EchoStar XVI satellite, which once in orbit will be fully leased to DISH Direct-to-Home services in the United States. After several technical problems, the satellite is now scheduled to blast off in the November-December timeframe from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the world's first and largest space launch facility located in Kazakhstan.
Since the conclusion of the U.S. Space Shuttle program, Baikonur has become the sole launch facility for manned missions to the International Space Station.
The black and white pictures that Paglen chose were also recently published in a book. They include photos of a meteorite, a dust storm hitting an American Midwest neighborhood, a ship traversing a canal and cherry blossoms.
Looking at the photographs, a theme is somewhat inscrutable -- an observation that Paglen himself admits. For example, a photo of a group of people taken by a predator drone joins several photos of 17,000-year-old cave paintings.
One of the more impalpable photos is of "financial crop circles," or trading activity patterns created by automated high-speed computer algorithms. One photo shows Native American petroglyphs from Canyon de Chelly in Arizona.
"What it depicts is Spanish raiders arriving in the Navajo territory. So really, it's an image of an alien invasion," he said. "So that was a powerful image for us in thinking about the history of empire and war and how the West and in fact much of the world [and civilization was developed]."
While at first blush the photos can seem to have been chosen at random, Paglen carefully picked the zeitgeist over a period of five years. The process included a group of artists from Creative Times, which commissioned the project.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- OpenStack Hype vs. Reality: CIO Quick Pulse Open-source architecture can enable IT departments to build infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds running on standard hardware.
- OpenStack and Red Hat: IDC White paper Most OpenStack deployments are by public cloud providers that are early adopters of technology and use OpenStack in a do-it-yourself deployment and support...
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform Datasheet Seamlessly transition to the cloud. Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform delivers an integrated foundation to create, deploy, and scale a secure and...
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Make or Break: New Auto Products Must Go To Market On Time This Webcast quantifies the value of time to market for the auto industry and highlights how Primavera Enterprise Portfolio Management can help organizations.
- IBM Flash Webcast: Optimizing your Datacenter for Efficient Storage & ROI Register for this webcast to learn the benefits of flash storage from IBM Customer, Leonardo Irastorza of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd and Storage... All Data Storage White Papers | Webcasts