We celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earthrise, the first picture of earth from space taken December 24, 1968, and the Apollo 11 spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon–Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on July 20, 1969. Looking at the earth from space, according to astronauts, is a transforming experience of the reality of astronomer Carl Sagan’s famous words, ‘we are the stuff of stars.”
Art creates an emotional connection to the transhistorical story of our existence and scientific facts and challenges to sustainability. The story is found in the art of space, and art that zooms in to the realities of life on earth, from the smallest particles of creation, to the art of the ancients, to the creativity of the human mind through the ages, and the dreams of the future.
The investment and commercial promotion of space exploration by billionaires Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk is propelling the industry ahead, and with it, a common understanding of society’s responsibility to sustainability and the future as astronauts see it. Lunar landings by China, India, and Israel are planned, and Australia has begun its space program. It is increasingly evident that, in the words of space historian Frank White, “The true symbol of this age is the view of the earth in space – the whole earth perspective.”
Aside from the NASA art collection and "Starman", the art below has been exhibited in Streaming Museum programs.
This view of the Earth from the moon’s Compton crater taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2015. evokes the famous ‘Blue Marble’ image taken by Astronaut Harrison Schmitt during Apollo 17 in 1972 which also showed Africa prominently in the picture.
“I realized that the molecules in our bodies had been prototyped in some ancient generation of stars. We’re stardust!” – Edgar Mitchell Apollo astronaut .
“We came all this way to explore the Moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.” – Bill Anders, Apollo 8 astronaut who took the first photograph of the earth in space on December 24, 1968
FROM THE NASA ART COLLECTION Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Rauschenberg, Laurie Anderson
The famous image of astronaut Buzz Aldrin standing on the Moon has become an icon of popular culture. The American hero with the U.S. flag became material for Warhol’s silkscreen series of nationally known images printed on vibrant, retro, poster colors.
Photographed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, during training. Collins was the first female pilot (Discovery in 1995) and first female commander (Columbia, 1999) of a space shuttle program.
In 1969, Robert Rauschenberg was invited to witness one of the most significant social events of the decade: the launch of Apollo 11, the shuttle that would place man on the moon. NASA provided Rauschenberg with detailed scientific maps, charts and photographs of the launch, which formed the basis of the Stoned moon series − comprising thirty-three lithographs printed at Gemini GEL. The Stoned Moon series is a celebration of man’s peaceful exploration of space as a ‘responsive, responsible collaboration between man and technology. The combination of art and science is something that Rauschenberg continued to investigate throughout the 1960s in what he calls his ‘blowing fuses period.
The End of the Moon, 2005, is a performance work by Laurie Anderson that combines stories and a mesmerizing soundscape for violin and electronics. Anecdotal, wide-ranging and epic, the performance draws on Anderson’s recent experiences as NASA’s first artist-in-residence. Part travelogue, part personal philosophy, part daydream, The End of the Moon looks at the relationships between war, aesthetics, spirituality and consumerism. It explores the meanings of freedom, time and beauty in our contemporary world.
ARTISTS EXHIBITED BY STREAMING MUSEUM
Michael Najjar will be the first artist to travel in Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space ship. Najjar’s work is deeply informed by an experiential hands-on approach, often requiring physical endurance, in locations around the world. For the outer space series he trains at the Russian Space Center Star City, the German Space Center in Cologne and the National AeroSpace Training and Research Center in the USA. Follow his historic, monumental space series at michaelnajjar.com
Astronaut Nicole Stott has explored from the heights of outer space to the depths of our oceans. In awe of what she experienced from these very special vantage points, she has dedicated her life to sharing the beauty of space ~ and Earth ~ with others. She believes that sharing these orbital and inner space perspectives has the power to increase everyone’s appreciation of and obligation to care for our home planet and each other.
A veteran NASA Astronaut, her experience includes two spaceflights and 104 days living and working in space on both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS) where she painted the first watercolor in space, now on loan to the collection of the Smithsonian Museum.
Nicole combines her artwork and spaceflight experience to inspire creative thinking about solutions to our planetary challenges, to raise awareness of the surprising interplay between science and art, and to promote the amazing work being done every day in space to improve life right here on Earth. She is the founder of the Space for Art Foundation and co-founder of Constellation organization.
Inner Telescope, 2017 by Eduardo Kac (pronounced “Katz”) is a performative artwork created for the conditions of Outer Space, conceived for zero gravity. It was realized aboard the International Space Station by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet on February 18, 2017 as an instrument of observation and poetic reflection on our relationship with the world and our position in the Universe. Kac has created a series of related works including photographs, drawings, embroidery, vinyl installation, and an artist book. ekac.org
Video produced with David Bates, Jr. / Streaming Museum
Artist Marco Brambilla created Apollo XVIII video installation for the March 2015 Times Square Midnight Moment, that weaves archival footage from real NASA missions with computer-generated imagery to present a countdown of a fictional Apollo mission to the moon.
Apollo XVIII re-interprets mankind’s relationship to space exploration in the electronic age. At the close of the Apollo program and the dawn of journeys to Mars, as expedition technologies segue from hybrid manned-electronic to virtual models, the NASA Program acts as a metaphor for the shift from physical to surrogate modes of exploration.
Apollo XVIII presents the countdown to an imagined lift-off of a Saturn V rocket on dozens of Times Square’s spectacular screens. The fictional mission combines both real, archival footage and virtual renderings to present a new collective viewing experience that will place the public at the foot of a new frontier.
Marco Brambilla said “The space age represented a landscape of optimism, capturing the imagination of the public. With Apollo XVIII, I hope to recapture the golden age of manned space travel as a spectacle presenting Times Square as the virtual launch site.”
Joshua Frankel and Judd Greenstein
PLAN OF THE CITY (2011), is an animated film (13:00), conceived and directed by Joshua Frankel with music by Judd Greenstein, that is about the architecture of New York City and Shanghai blasting off into outer space and resettling on Mars. The film’s visuals are an animated collage combining live action footage, animated elements, illustrations and treated photographs, including photos taken by the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity made available to the public domain by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Judd Greenstein’s music was performed by NOW Ensemble also featured as actors inside the animated framework.
Daily Overview is a wildly popular Instagram project by Benjamin Grant, that is a stunning and unique collection of satellite images of Earth that offer an unexpected look at humanity. Overview aims to inspire a fresh perspective of our planet and encourage a new understanding of what human impact looks like.
Grant is inspired by the “Overview Effect”–a sensation that astronauts experience when given the opportunity to look down and view the Earth as a whole. His book OVERVIEW, shows the breathtaking, high definition satellite photographs as a new way to look at the landscape that we have shaped. More than 200 images of industry, agriculture, architecture, and nature highlight incredible patterns while also revealing a deeper story about human impact. This extraordinary photographic journey around our planet captures the sense of wonder gained from a new, aerial vantage point and creates a perspective of Earth as it has never been seen before.
Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster is an electric sports car that served as the dummy payload for the February 2018 Falcon Heavy test flight and became an artificial satellite of the Sun. “Starman”, a mannequin dressed in a spacesuit, occupies the driver’s seat. The car and rocket are products of Tesla and SpaceX, respectively, both companies founded by Elon Musk. The 2008-model Roadster was previously used by Musk for commuting to work and is the only production car in space.
The car, mounted on the rocket’s second stage, acquired enough velocity to escape Earth’s gravity and enter an elliptical heliocentric orbit crossing the orbit of Mars. The orbit reaches a maximum distance from the Sun at aphelion of 1.66 astronomical units (au). During the early portion of the voyage outside the Earth’s atmosphere, live video was transmitted back to the mission control center and live-streamed for slightly over four hours.
Advertising analysts noted Musk’s sense of brand management and use of new media for his decision to launch a Tesla into space. While some commenters voiced concern that the car contributed to space debris, others saw it as a work of art. Musk explained he wanted to inspire the public about the “possibility of something new happening in space” as part of his larger vision for spreading humanity to other planets.