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Constructing alternatives to this world, on other worlds, and in space is as much the domain of photographers and artists as it is of scientists and technologists. Those without access to machine learning or the resources of space agencies, still have public access to NASA/JPL photographs. Privatization efforts may mean that U.S. space program assets in the future are no longer within reach in public archives. But the advance of off-the-shelf components used in actual spacecraft means that the ordinary citizen can build their own entrants into the space race.

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Softcover Book
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6.5” x 10”, 50 pp, Edition of 100
ISBN: 978-0-578-98397-4

As the 21st C. advances in what echoes the dystopian future so often imagined by science fiction, the .1% are already benefiting from the thrust of early space colonization to the moon — and now Mars. No longer will they need to escape from teeming cities; permanent orbit beckons. The mining of rare minerals and industrial energy sources are tantalizingly closer to exploitation and profit, especially as the ravages of Earth reach their proletarian inevitabilities.

Using public domain images and devices of my own manufacture, I have imagined my own moon orbiter and eventually, lander. It is a mere product of mental invention, a fantastic notion, and a feigned and improbable series titled Figments: Memories of Earth.

Figments explores questions about the role of the hand and the eye in a context where photographic algorithmic strategies grow ever more convincing, ever more real. Automated technologies construct alternate realities without direct human intervention, what artist-futurist and activist Stephanie Dinkins calls the “invisible arbiters of human interaction”. As Trevor Paglen, imagemaker-sculptor-journalist-writer-engineer, demonstrates in Territory, computational photographic techniques “enhance” images for surveillance or facial recognition. In Paglen’s words, “images are no longer spectacle but they are in fact looking back at us, being actors in a process of massive value extract.”