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Concept — outer space

Michael Najjar's "outer space" work series deals with the latest developments in space exploration and the way they will shape our future life on Earth, in Earth’s near orbit and on other planets. By leaving our home and flying to the moon or other planets, we change our understanding of two of the most fundamental questions confronting humankind – who we are and where we come from. The attempt to penetrate the far reaches of space bears witness to our innate sense of curiosity and our unquenchable desire to push back frontiers and go beyond them. Yet the point is not merely to leave the Earth behind us, but to reflect on what our own spaceship earth means to us and will mean to the generations who come after us.

The cultural dimension represented by emergent cutting-edge space technologies is very much at the center of Najjars´s work – in terms of the deeper knowledge these new technologies will impart about the universe, their impact on space travel, and the way they will influence and shape our lives and work on Earth. This ongoing series started in 2011 with the final launch of the American Space Shuttle Atlantis and currently comprises 24 photographic artworks and 4 video works. The artist has traveled to the world´s most important spaceports like the Kennedy Space Center, Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and the Guiana Space Centre near Kourou in French Guiana. He has met with numerous scientists, engineers and astronauts, and visited space laboratories around the globe constructing new spacecrafts, satellites and telescopes. He traveled to the Atacama Desert in Chile to photograph the world´s most powerful telescopes located at sites across high altitude plateaus in the Andes. His collaboration with leading scientists and space agencies has given him privileged access to locations which are usually unknown to and unseen by the public. The present series blends documentary and fictive scenarios to create visionary enactments of current and future space exploration.

One essential hallmark of Najjar’s work is the way it is deeply informed by an experiential hands-on approach. The intimate experience of “living through” situations which provide the leitmotifs of his art is vital to the artist. This performative aspect has also become a fundamental part of Najjar´s work process and will culminate in the artist´s own flight into space. As one of the pioneer astronauts of Virgin Galactic, Michael Najjar will be embarking on SpaceShipTwo on one of its future spaceflights where he will be the first artist to travel in space.

To prepare for this flight Najjar is conducting an intensive and ongoing astronaut training program at Star City (GCTC), Russia, the German Space Center (DLR) in Cologne and the National AeroSpace Training And Research (NASTAR) Center in the USA. Defying physical limits, the artist puts his body through a grueling series of training sessions including a stratospheric flight in a MiG-29 jet fighter, zero gravity flights, centrifugal spins, underwater space-walk training in a heavy astronaut suit, and a HALO Jump from an altitude of 10,000m: situations of extremities which he captures on camera to investigate his own physical and mental responses and exemplify them in his works.

The series also includes an assembly of contemporary visions of future life and work in space. Inherent in the actual artworks, these visions are commissioned by the artist and articulated in a series of "vision statements" written by leading figures in space exploration, science, architecture and philosophy including Buzz Aldrin, Richard Branson, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Anousheh Ansari, Norman Foster, and Stephen Hawking.

Works from the “outer space” series have been exhibited internationally in numerous galleries and museums. In 2014, the prestigious DISTANZ Verlag, Berlin, published a comprehensive book on the series.

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final mission (2011)

Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"final mission" shows the very last launch of a U.S. space shuttle. Atlantis STS-135 was the 135th and final mission of the American Space Shuttle Program, the U.S. government's NASA-administered manned launch vehicle program which ran from 1981 to 2011. The Space Shuttle system – composed of an orbiter launched with two reusable solid rocket boosters and a disposable external fuel tank – carried up to eight astronauts and up to 23,000 kg of payload into low Earth orbit. Its mission completed, the orbiter re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and landed like a glider at Kennedy Space Center.

The ultimate voyage on July 8, 2011, this ultimate voyage marked the last chapter in NASA’s thirty-year history of space flight whilst at the same time opening a new era of commercial space travel. The historical event was photographed by Michael Najjar on location at Cape Canaveral. In combining the triple phases of the thunderous liftoff, the artwork captures the incredible energy needed to boost the vehicle and its crew and cargo out of Earth’s gravity to the International Space Station (ISS).

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spaceport (2012)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"spaceport" shows the first private space hub on the planet, Spaceport America, located in the New Mexican desert west of the White Sands missile range. This futuristic building was designed by world-famous architect Lord Norman Foster. It will be the hub for future commercial space travel operated by Virgin Galactic and other private space companies and will host a fleet of new spaceships as well as an astronaut training facility. Using local materials and regional construction techniques, Spaceport America is both sustainable and sensitive to its surroundings. The sinuous shape of the building seeks to embody the drama and mystery of space flight itself. The artwork is a fusion of daytime and nighttime scenery, whose digital recomposition reinforces Foster’s lead idea of reducing the visibility of the building by merging its architectural structure with the natural environment.

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space debris (2012)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"space debris I" visualizes the population of defunct objects now in various orbits around the Earth and including everything from spent rocket stages and dead satellites even through to nuclear reactors. There are now some 600,000 objects ranging from 1 to 10cm in diameter and some 21,000 objects larger than 10cm orbiting the Earth at speeds of approximately 28,000 kmph. These all pose a serious threat to satellites, space stations, and operational space flights. The increasing amount of space debris poses a serious environmental pollution problem which needs to be urgently addressed.

The artwork visualizes the amount of space debris from low Earth orbit through to geostationary orbit in the year 2012. Drawn from a data archive, each spherule in thepicture represents a real object orbiting in space. The visualization was realized in collaboration with the Institute of Aerospace Systems/TU Braunschweig, Germany, the world’s leading authority on the tracking of space debris.

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space debris II (2012)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"orbital debris_2020" shows a full scale mock-up of the Russian module of the International Space Station (ISS), humankind’s most distant orbital outpost. The mock-up is housed 12m below the surface in a gigantic hydrolab of five million liters of water in Star City, the Russian space training center near Moscow. The hydrolab is used by Russian cosmonauts for extravehicular activity training (EVA). The space station is scheduled for decommissioning in 2020, at which time it will itself become another piece of orbital debris. However, it will probably not remain in space for ever but at some point plunge to a watery grave in the ocean.

The artwork shows a vertical view of the Russian ISS module from 10m above the surface. Visually linked to “space debris I,” the work is a digital recomposition of various perspectives of the module merged into each other. It refers to the extremely cramped living space on board the station as well as to the dual relationship of reality and simulation which is a fun-damental principle in space travel. The artist himself constructed an EVA training module outside and inside the mock-up.

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golden eye I (2012)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"golden eye I" shows various aluminum containers each carrying segments of the largest space-based telescope humankind has ever built. Now under construction, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is intended to replace the famous Hubble Space Telescope in 2018. The eighteen hexagonal mirrors of the telescope each have a diameter of 6.5m and are gold coated beryllium reflectors. The JWST’s primary scientific mission has four main components: to search for light from the first stars and galaxies formed in the universe after the Big Bang; to study the formation and evolution of galaxies; to understand the formation of stars and planetary systems; and to study planetary systems and the origins of life.

The containers were photographed at Ball Aerospace factory in Bolder, USA. Each container stores one of the precious mirrors. The text elements on the containers have been digitally added to indicate the scientific purposes of the cutting-edge telescope. Once assembled, it will be launched into space from Guiana Space Center on board an Ariane 5 rocket.

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golden eye II (2012)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"golden eye II" shows one of the golden mirror segments of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). This next generation telescope is scheduled to be launched into space on board an Ariane 5 rocket in 2018 from Guiana Space Center as a replacement for the famous Hubble Space Telescope. JWST will have unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from the long wavelength visible to the mid-infrared range. The JWST's instruments will not measure visible or ultraviolet light like the Hubble Telescope, but will have a much greater capacity to perform infrared astronomy. Its primary scientific mission is to search forlight from the first stars and galaxies formed in the universe after the Big Bang. The telescope’s primary mirror is a beryllium reflector with a diameter of 6.5m and a collecting area of 25m . The mirror is composed of eighteen hexagonal segments which will unfold after the tele-scope is launched into space. The data collected by this golden mirror placed in orbit behind the Moon will change humanity’s understanding of the formation of the universe and the origins of life.

The artwork "golden eye II" shows one of the eighteen golden mirrors under construction at Ball Aerospace´s cleanroom in Bolder, USA. The digital recomposition combines front and rear parts of the mirror in a single image.

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orbital debris_2020 (2013)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"orbital debris_2020" shows a full scale mock-up of the Russian module of the International Space Station (ISS), humankind’s most distant orbital outpost. The mock-up is housed 12m below the surface in a gigantic hydrolab of five million liters of water in Star City, the Russian space training center near Moscow. The hydrolab is used by Russian cosmonauts for extravehicular activity training (EVA). The space station is scheduled for decommissioning in 2020, at which time it will itself become another piece of orbital debris. However, it will probably not remain in space for ever but at some point plunge to a watery grave in the ocean.

The artwork shows a vertical view of the Russian ISS module from 10m above the surface. Visually linked to "space debris I," the work is a digital recomposition of various perspectives of the module merged into each other. It refers to the extremely cramped living space on board the station as well as to the dual relationship of reality and simulation which is a fundamental principle in space travel. The artist himself constructed an EVA training module outside and inside the mock-up.

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liquid gravity (2013)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"liquid gravity" explores linkages between space, gravity, and the human body. A cosmonaut levitates above the ground in what seems at first sight to be an industrial environment. In fact it´s the world´s largest hydrolab at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. Known as "neutral buoyancy", the principle of simulating weightlessness in a huge tank of water was first developed by Buzz Aldrin for the Gemini project in the early 1960s. Since then the hydrolab has been a vital part of training for all cosmonauts and astronauts.

The artwork "liquid gravity" draws on a cosmonaut training session taken by Michael Najjar in December 2012 at Star City. The artist spent two hours under water in an original EVA spacesuit. The picture was taken at a depth of 12m and subsequently one element was digitally added - the Earth. The view of the globe of the Earth through the porthole dislocates the viewer’s perspective of space and questions the relationship between the real-world and fabricated reality.

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gravitational rotator (2013)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"gravitational rotator" shows the world’s largest centrifuge at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, considered the "mother" of all centrifuges. Centrifuge TSF-18 (its radius is 18m) has been used since 1980 for the selection and training of cosmonauts. It effectively simulates the downside factors of space flight such as long- itudinal g-load, physiological microgravity, low cabin pressure, and the different temperatures, humidity, and gas composition of the cabin air. It can generate up to 31 times the force of gravity.

The artwork shows the entry doors of the round capsule where cosmonauts sit for g-force exposure. The work underscores the disruptive effects of strong g-forces and loss of orientation such as tunnel view and loss of color vision.

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gravitational stress at the edge of space (2013)

Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"gravitational stress at the edge of space” was photographed during an edge-of-space flight in a Russian MiG-29 jetfighter which formed part of Michael Najjar’s cosmonaut training. Seated in the jetfighter, the artist was catapulted with supersonic speed into the stratosphere, reaching an altitude of 19,500m. During the high-speed flight maneuvers Michael Najjar was exposed to massive disorientation coupled with gravitational stress on his body and brain of up to 7 g.

The artwork evokes the loss of orientation caused by enormous acceleration and crushing g-forces. The picture is a self-portrait of the artist taken at 19,500m altitude when travelling at almost twice the speed of sound. The enormous g-forces made it almost impossible to take this unique "selfie". The work also illustrates how totally dependent the human body is on technology for survival in such an extreme environment.

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kinetic drift (2014)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"kinetic drift" explores the process of spatial disorientation, which occurs in a microgravity environment. Commercialization of outer space may depend upon an increased human presence in orbit. Sojourns in zero gravity environments cause disruptions of the human vestibular system which is responsible for our sense of balance and spatial orientation. Deprived of a stable gravitational reference point, astronauts experience arbitrary and unexpected changes in their sense of verticality. Perspectives that are thoroughly familiar when viewed from one point may become unfamiliar when viewed from a different up-down point of reference.

The artwork "kinetic drift" draws on a Zero-G flight taken by Michael Najjar in October 2013 at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. The artist himself is performing the kinetic drift during a parabolic flight in a Russian Ilyushin IL-76. Over 10 periods of floating in weightlessness, and spatial disorientation he took a series of photos of the space around him. He used these to make a digital reconstruction of the spatial environment, building a fictive space exemplifying the loss of familiar spatial axes. The center of the composition shows the artist himself in a state of weightlessness.

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space garden (2013)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

Based on photographs taken at the Eden Project, a complex of artificial biomes in Cornwall in the south of England, "space garden" visualizes the idea of future greenhouses in space. The giant multidome greenhouse is related to Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic structures andhouses over 100,000 plants collected from all over the world. "space garden" explores the idea of how research undertaken by Eden Project could one day help in installing a biome on a spaceship or a space station – or even in creating an autonomous ecosystem, a habitat for plants on the Moon or on Mars. It also questions how zero or microgravity affects the growth of plants. Plants can grow even when not rooted in soil; they always grow in the direction of the light.

The artwork is a highly complex digital montage and recomposition of the many photos the artist took at the Eden Project. The pictures were stitched together so as to make the plants float in the air, and grow towards the two opposite light sources. The hexagonal geodesic structure behind the plants underscores the fact that all plants in space have to grow in an artificial atmosphere.

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a.l.m.a. (2014)

Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"a.l.m.a.” pictures the largest astronomical observatory on our planet, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in the Atacama Desert in Chile. ALMA is a unique telescope array composed of sixty-six high precision moveable antennas located in the extremely dry air of the Chajnantor plateau at an altitude of 5,000m. Inaugurated in 2013 the telescope is expected to provide insight into the birth of stars in the early universe and detailed imaging of local star and planet formations. Looking into the universe always means looking into our past. The ALMA antennas transform what is invisible and immaterial into something tangible and substantial which will give us a deeper understanding of who we are and where we come from.

The artwork is a fusion of daytime and nighttime scenery, whose digital recomposition highlights the extreme technical precision of the antennas and their relationship to the target area from which the data comes – the universe. The starry sky is not the one we can see with our naked eye but shows far distant galaxies and stars billions of light years away – all data captured by the ALMA antennas.

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muse (2014)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"muse" shows the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE), a cutting-edge 3D field spec-trograph operating in the near-infrared wavelength range. This is an instrument of extraordi- nary power built to discover objects that lie beyond the reach of even the deepest imaging surveys now available. With its unequaled capacity to observe theuniverse in volume and depth, MUSE is expected to revolutionize the field of astronomy. It is designed to detect rare photons of galaxies formed in the wake of the Big Bang. In January 2014, MUSE was integrated into the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory at ESO Paranal in Chile.

The artwork "muse" shows the spectrograph during its assembly in the cleanroom at ESO Paranal, and highlights the enormous complexity and technical precision of this instrument – the outcome of ten years of intensive research, development and construction. The artist was privileged to be given a unique opportunity to portrait this extraordinary development shortly before it was integrated into the Very Large Telescope.

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gravitation entanglement (2014)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"gravitation entanglement" depicts the inevitable collision between our own Milky Way and our closest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope observations indicate that the two galaxies, pulled together by their mutual force of attraction, will crash in a near-head-on collision in about 4.5 billion years from now. The two galaxies would race by each other were it not for the force of gravity pulling them together. The spiral galaxies will merge to create a single new elliptical galaxy while new planets and solar systems will be formed from the star dust produced by the crash.

The artwork "gravitation entanglement" anticipates what we will see looking up into the night sky in about 4.5 billion years – supposing of course that humankind still exists. The visualization of this event is based on high resolution Measurement data from the Hubble Space Telescope from the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, digitally transformed pixel by pixel to simulate the galactic encounter. The mountain range at the bottom was photographed in the Atacama Desert in Chile. This work can also be
seen asa metaphor for the enduring circle of life and death.

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sands of mars (2014)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"sands of mars" focuses on the idea of the future colonization of the planet Mars. Once a science-fiction fantasy, it is now the subject of serious feasibility studies. The Red Planet is unique in that it has the resources required to support a population of sufficient size to create a new local branch of human civilization. Colonization requires the establishment of permanent bases that have the potential for self-expansion, and inflatable habitats are one possible option for surface architecture on Mars. Geodesic spheres as invented by Buckminster Fuller in the fifties of the last century may well be a perfect architectural concept for Mars habitats. The landscape was photographed at a unique location in Chile’s Atacama Desert which offers a similar type of landscape to that found on Mars and which is often used as a testing ground for future Mars rovers.

The artwork "sands of mars" visualizes the future scenario of a Mars habitat, merging the image of a remote and endless Mars-like landscape with three geodesic cupolas. It also focusses on the relationship between inside and outside space. In the early days of Mars colonization we will have an entire new planet to live on, but very little space to live in.

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interplanetary landscape (2014)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"interplanetary landscape” focuses on the similarities between Mars and Earth. Geologic evidence suggests that in its distant past. Mars could have been warm and wet on a global scale. Intense geologic activity has reshaped the surface of the Earth, erasing evidence of our earliest history. Martian rocks could be even older than rocks on the Earth, so exploring Mars may help us decipher the story of our own geologic evolution including the origins of life onEarth. Both planets are coming closer together now as we intensify the scientific exploration of Mars, constantly extending the visual mapping of our neighbor planet.

The artwork "interplanetary landscape" merges a photograph taken by the artist in Mars Valley in the Atacama Desert in Chile with high resolution pictures taken by the Mars rover Curiosity which is currently active on the Martian surface, sending images and scientific data back to Earth on a daily basis. Before the rover was sent to Mars, it was tested in the Atacama Desert. The artistic fusion of both planets is a metaphor for the next step in human evolution – becoming a bi-planetary species.

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desert sky (2014)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"desert sky" shows an out-of-this-world landscape from the central region of the Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the most arid places on Earth. The desert lies in the rain shadow of Chile’s Coast Range, which squeezes moisture out of the atmosphere and provides a clear sky almost the entire year. The Mars-like landscape is one of the world’s best sites to look into the universe. The picture was taken from the summit of the Cerro Armazones mountain at an altitude of 3,060m. E-ELT, this extraordinary, cutting-edge next generation telescope, will be built on the peak of this mountain. The telescope will have a diameter of 39m, consist of 798 mirror segments and be the largest telescope in the world. After 10 years research to find the best location, construction officially started in June 2014. The aim is to have the E-ELT observatory operational by 2022.

The artwork "desert sky" depicts the vastness and infinitude of this remote place on Earth. An area of some 500 square kilometers around Cerro Armazones has been declared a protected region to avoid any kind of disruption by mining works or light pollution. The little station in the center is an observation station that has long been measuring the moisture in the atmosphere. The picture was taken exactly from the foundation stone of the new telescope – our future window on the universe.

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space voyagers (2015)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

The work "space voyagers" portrays the crew of TMA-14M which left earth in a Soyuz Spaceship on 25th of September 2014. Barry Wilmore, Alexander Samokutajew and Jelena Serowa blasted off in the famous Soyuz Rocket from Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan heading for the International Space Station (ISS). After a whole year of intense training and preparations, the launch day is the probably the most exciting day in the life of a cosmonaut or astronaut. During an official goodbye ceremony conducted by the head of the Russian Space Agency and an orthodox priest, the cosmonauts had to confirm that they were
"ready to leave the planet".

The artwork "space voyagers" shows the three cosmonauts just at the moment when they say goodbye to planet Earth before entering their spaceship. These three individuals will have the rare opportunity to watch our planet from space during a six months stay on board the ISS. The kind of excitement and joy this unique moment brings is written in their faces. The visual composition separates the three cosmonauts from their usual environment and anticipates what will happen in the next moment – lift-off from planet Earth, escape from its gravitational field.

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orbital spy (2016)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

The U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, is working on plans for a novel telescope technology. The development program Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) aims at replacing conventional glass optics with lightweight polymer membranes that will pave the way for a foldable plastic orbital telescope. Such a revolutionary high-resolution space telescope will be placed in geostatio-nary orbit (at an altitude of 36,000km) to conduct high resolution photographic and video surveillance of the surface of the Earth in real-time. The optical plastic membranes will be mounted on thin aluminum panels which unfold in space like origami works to form a tele-scope of over 20m in diameter. The polymer lenses will transmit light to the sensors of a facing satellite which generates images and video. From its position in geostationary orbit, the telescope will be capable of scanning about 40 percent of the Earth’s surface at a resolution of one meter.

The artwork "orbital spy" visualizes this futuristic space technology. Based on what little information is now available on the internet, a 3D model of the telescope was rendered and combined with an Earth view. This technology will not only revolutionize the way images are captured but will also prove a watershed in terms of the capability of military and state-controlled surveillance to monitor the planet and the people who live on it.

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oscillating universe (2015)

Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

The work "oscillating universe" visualizes the "Big Bounce" theory which offers a hypothetical scientific model of the birth of our Universe. This theory draws on the idea of a cyclic or oscillatory universe which resulted during the Big Bang from the collapse of a previous universe. It argues that the Big Bang, which happened some 13.7 billion years ago, was the final big bang of a universe which existed before our own whose mass collapsed under the influence of gravity. Thus the Big Bang is no singularity but marks the beginning of a period of expansion following on from a period of contraction. According to the oscillatory universe theory, the Big Bang was simply the beginning of a period of expansion that followed a period when space contracted. This suggests that we could be living at any point in an infinite sequence of universes, or that our present Universe could be the first iteration of such a sequence.

The composition of the artwork "oscillating universe" draws on multiple super high res data visualizations of distant galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope which have been digitally stitched to form a new fictive universe. This new universe has been inverted (reversal of black and white values) and supplemented with a matter-absorbing black hole. During the mounting of the final artwork, small metal particles were added which spread at random across the picture. These particles glitter like stars and vanish the next moment, depending on the lightning and the viewers’ perspective. They can be taken as a metaphor for the circle of life.

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serious anomaly (2015)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

On October 31, 2014, Virgin Galactic´s suborbital spaceplane SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight in the Mojave Desert, California. The spaceplane started out from the Mojave Air and Space Port, and after reaching an altitude of 10,000m, separated from the carrier mother- ship. Eleven seconds later, the spaceplane disintegrated with a loud bang. Co-pilot, Michael Alsbury, was killed in the crash while the pilot, Peter Siebold, was seriously injured.

The artwork "serious anomaly" is a depiction of the experience of failure which is a fundamen-tal part of human existence. The composition is a reinterpretation of Caspar David Friedrich´s iconic 1824 painting Das Eismeer - Die gescheiterte Hoffnung (The Sea of Ice - The Wreck of Hope) widely considered the supreme incarnation of the idea of human failure. The painting underscores the relationship between man and nature but also that of technology and nature; the ship crushed between the shards of ice is in fact an expeditionary ship on a mission to discover new trade routes.

The work is a digital composition based on an extensive number of photographs taken by photo reporters at the scene of the crash in the Mojave Desert which have been exactly assembled to mirror the composition of Caspar David Friedrich's painting. The expeditionary ship in Friedrich's painting is replaced by the seat of the pilot who survived the crash. The work questions the relationship between man and machine, and the pushing back of frontiers through technological innovation.

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europa (2016)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

The Jupiter moon Europa is one of the most likely places to find life outside the Earth. Europa is a stupendous world of ice; its entire surface is covered by a thick ice shell several kilometers deep. The American Jet Propulsion Laboratory has now for the first time offered solid scientific evidence showing that there is a 100km deep saltwater ocean under the ice shell. It is now supposed that this distant satellite of Jupiter holds more than twice the amount of water than the Earth. There’s also a high probability that Europa has the right preconditions for life. Scientists made this discovery in a region known as a "chaos terrain". This is a weird looking area scattered with huge mountains of ice at some points of which the subterranean ocean under the ice seems to have found its way to the surface. As there is no atmosphere to Europa, the water turns directly to ice and steam when it hits the vacuum on the surface.

The work "europa" visualizes the surface of the Jupiter moon Europa. The visual composition – very much inspired by German painter Caspar David Friedrich – fuses land- scape portraits photographed in a glacier region of Iceland with images of the surface of the Europa moon taken by the flyby Galileo space probe. The work also conveys humankind’s irrepressible urge to discover new worlds and learn more about the origins of human life.

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moon mining (2016)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

Our Moon possesses an abundance of helium-3, a precious isotope which could be the energy source of the future for fusion reactors. One ton of it could supply all the electricity needs of a city the size of London for a whole year. Helium-3 forms part of the solar wind which cannot reach the Earth’s surface as it’s blocked by the Earth’s magnetic field. The Moon has no magnetic field which means that it’s fully exposed to the solar wind, and plentiful supplies of helium-3 have accumulated over many billions of years in the sand of the Moon. Both NASA and the China National Space Administration CNSA are now gearing up for the coming competition for the Moon’s rich resources.

The artwork "moon mining" visualizes the future importance the Moon will have as a source of energy for the Earth. The major part of the composition is taken up by Moon sand, known as regolith, in which the helium-3 gas is embedded. A mine on the left of the picture refers to the future mining of resources. The small moon base is designed by architect Norman Foster who developed a concept for the European Space Agency ESA in which housing on the Moon would be constructed from regolith using 3D printers. The work is composed of photo- graphs of Moon Valley in the Atacama Desert and original shots of the Moon’s surface taken by the Apollo astronauts.

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hazardous asteroids (2016)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

To date 1681 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) have been identified as possible threats to our planet. PHAs are asteroids with a diameter of at least 140m whose orbits pass the Earth’s orbit within a distance of 7.5 million kilometers. Asteroids are rocky debris left over from the initial agglomeration of the inner planets that include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. The impact of such large Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) has contributed to mass extinctions and has changed the course of evolution. Moreover, it is a scientific certainty that NEOs will continue to hit the Earth at irregular intervals in the future with the potential for catastrophic damage to life and property. In the NEOShield project scientists are now working to assess the threat of such NEOs and develop solutions for dealing with big asteroids on a collision course with our planet.

The artwork "hazardous asteroids" depicts the orbits of all known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids identified as of January 2016. The center of the image marks the sun, Earth is seen as a small black dot while the outer limit is defined by the orbit of Jupiter. Collisions of asteroids with Earth have occurred frequently over geological time and have radically altered the course of evolutionary history. The next occurrence of such an event will be the close approach of the PHA Apophis (diameter 330m) in 2029. Data for "hazardous asteroids" was supplied by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.

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waves of mars (2016)

Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

In 2015 NASA scientists declared that they had evidence to show that liquid water runs down canyons and crater walls of Mars during the summer months. This discovery raises the chances of Mars being home to some form of life. NASA unveiled evidence of an ocean that might have covered half the Martian northern hemisphere in the distant past. This has led to speculation about the existence of giant but slow-moving waves on the Red Planet. The Mars rover Curiosity has been exploring the surface of Mars since 6 August 2012. One of the rover´s main goals is to find out if Mars has ever offered environmental conditions favorable to microbial life, a goal that also includes investigation of the role played by water.

The artwork "waves of mars" is based on a picture that Curiosity took in January 2016. The original picture has been digitally alternated in such a way that from a certain distance it looks like a massive wave of water. In the past humankind formed a visual iconography of its habitat on Earth based on their natural direct visual experiences. However, with the discovery and scientific exploration of Mars, we are now travelling in the reverse direction: when the first humans land on the planet they will bring with them an extensive set of visual experiences about the new environment which has already been inhabited and visually mapped by machines. Thus "waves of mars" also questions the relationship between reality and the construction of reality. It´s an incontrovertible fact that machines are now producing the iconography of an environment which might one day become a new habitat for the human species.

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void space (2016)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"void space" shows the 58m tall, 137m wide and 31m large assembly hall at Europe´s CSG spaceport in French Guiana. Inside this building an Ariane 5 launcher rocket is taking shape. A launch campaign begins in this facility with the positioning of Ariane 5’s core cryogenic stage over the mobile launch table. The two solid booster stages are then mated on its sides. The core stage is topped off with one of the upper stages and with the Vehicle Equipment Bay. The whole integration process takes about four weeks, after which the launcher is transferred to the Final Assembly Building to receive its payload.

"void space" was photographed shortly after the Ariane 5 rocket left the building. The artwork focuses on the enormous complexity of the 80,000m3 architectural structure needed to work on multiple horizontal and vertical levels to build the vehicle. The structure includes three main and dozens of secondary mobile levels. By showing the assembly hall without its object of desire, the work conceptually shifts the void - the obvious absence of the significant - into the center of perception. It’s a stage without an actor that allows viewers to see something previously hidden to their eyes. Here the stage itself becomes the actor.

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suprematist satellite (2016)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

The 6.5 ton satellite EUTELSAT 65 West A is a tri-band satellite designed to target fast-growing video and broadband markets across Latin America. One of the satellite´s main goals is to boost capability in the region ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016. The Ariane 5 VA229 launcher successfully boosted the satellite from the European spaceport in French Guiana to its geosynchronous transfer orbit on 9 March, 2016. From there the satellite was maneuvered to geostationary orbit at an altitude of 36,000km. The conquest of space and the construction of satellites had already appeared as an aesthetic vision in the Russian Constructivist movement in the early 20th century. Kazimir Malevich, who exhibited his first Black Square painting in 1915, created his vision of Suprematist satellites five years later in 1920, imagining new objects in space, moving in orbit and creating their own paths. Presciently. he insisted that the form of such a satellite has no relation to the technology of the Earth’s surface, as these objects will float in conditions of weightlessness.

The artwork "suprematist satellite" is a homage to thefuturistic vision of Malevich. Especially with regard to their aesthetic appearance, today’s satellites can be considered as abstract sculptures. Drawing on dozens of photographs taken at the S5 Satellite Assembly Building at Spaceport French Guiana, the work is a digital reconstruction which illustrates the technical complexity of a satellite. As they will spend their lifespan in the microgravity of space, satellites defy any aesthetic categorization in relation to the strongest force to shape our life on Earth: the force of gravity. The visual composition of the work anticipates the future weightless environment of the satellite.

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space launcher (2016)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

The work "space launcher" shows an Ariane 5 rocket in the Final Assembly Building at the Centre Spatial Guyanais(CSG), Europe´s spaceport located in French Guiana. Ariane 5 is a heavy lift launch vehicle that forms part of the Ariane rocket family, an expendable launch system used to deliver payloads into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) or low Earth orbit (LEO). Inside the 90-meter-tall Assembly Building the launcher receives its payload which is transferred by a traveling crane for installation atop the rocket. In this picture it´s carrying the multi-mission satellite Eutelsat 65 West A with a mass of 6,500kg. The upper stage of the rocket is fueled in the Final Assembly Building. Once integration is complete, the mobile launch table with its rocket is rolled out to the launch zone by the "Titan" truck. Ariane 5 VA229 successfully boosted the Eutelsat 65 West A satellite to its geosynchronous transfer orbit on 9 March, 2016.

The artwork "space launcher" shows the enormous complexity of the assembly structure needed to build the relatively simple form of the launcher vehicle - which is basically a tube. The composition of the work refers to the multistage assembly process which takes place on various vertical and horizontal levels. The original photograph has been alternated to emphasize technical and constructive precision and the fact that assembly construction and the launcher itself form one single entity.

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mission control (2016)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"mission control" shows the Jupiter Control Room at Europe´s Space Center CSG in French Guiana. This facility manages the space flights of all CSG launch vehicles, usually from point of launch to end of mission. A staff of flight controllers uses telemetry to monitor all aspects of the mission and sends commands to the vehicle via ground stations. A huge flow of data related to the attitude control system, power, propulsion, and thermal systems, attitude dynamics, and launch and orbital operations is processed in this room. Final countdown takes place here and spaceflights are closely monitored until their payload is accurately placed in the correct orbit. A mission control room is a highly charged mythic space. The relationship between simulation and reality - which is fundamental in space exploration - accumulates in such a room where reality is mostly invisible yet continuously constructed from a torrent of data.

The artwork "mission control" oscillates between reality and simulation, composed as it is of various views of the control room ceiling. On closer inspection it reveals a filigree network structure which relates to the "nerve center" metaphor often used for control rooms. The center picture screens show the Ariane 5 VA229 rocket on the launch pad overlaid by the time schedule of the upcoming launch. The central part of the work depicts the darkness of space, the ultimate destination for the launcher’s payload.

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heterotopia (2016)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

"heterotopia" shows an Ariane 5 rocket on the launch pad shortly before blasting off into space. The Guiana Space Centre (CSG) is the European spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. Operational since 1968, it is in an optimal location which fulfills the two major geographical requirements for such a site: closeness to the Equator, so that the spinning Earth can impart some extra free velocity to eastward launched rockets, and uninhabited territory - the spaceport is surrounded by the Amazonian forest - so that lower stages of rockets and debris from launch failures cannot fall on human habitations. This high tech facility in the middle of a primeval forest creates not only a stirringly surrealistic setting, but can also serve as a metaphor for the strong and vital relationship between space exploration and planet Earth itself. Many of the Earth observation satellites launched from CSG are helping humanity gain a better understanding of how highly vulnerable our planet is and how severely it is threatened by climate change.

The artwork "heterotopia" is a digital re-composition based on pictures taken during a helicopter flight prior to launch. It focuses on the idea that we need to extend our existential framework of reference from one that is purely Earth-bound to one which includes Earth orbits and outer space in general. The term “heterotopia” was elaborated by the French philosopher Michel Foucault to describe spaces that have more layers of meaning to other places than are immediately visible, and that are capable of juxtaposing several spaces usually not meant to be in a relationship. Foucault uses the idea of a mirror as a metaphor for duality and contradiction, for the reality and unreality of such spaces which are neither here nor there. The Guiana Space Centre can be viewed as one such heterotopian place. But the artwork also invokes the heterotopian space between the Earth’s surface and Earth orbits which will become increasingly relevant and more densely populated in the near future.

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orbital ascent (2017)

Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

On 17 November 2016 at 10.06 local time an Ariane 5 rocket was launched into orbit from Guiana Space Centre. The launch vehicle started by flying straight up, gaining both vertical speed and altitude. During liftoff and the first part of the ascent, the combustion of the solid propellant in the two side boosters produces enormous thrust which accelerates the rocket and forms a huge column of smoke. During this portion of the launch, gravity acts directly against the thrust of the rocket, fighting against vertical acceleration. The milestone mission Flight Ariane VA233 brought up 4 Galileo satellites at once on orbit, making Europe’s new civil global navigation system a constellation of 18 satellites. Galileo will enable users worldwide to know their exact position in time and space with great precision and reliability. Once complete, the system will consist of 24 operational satellites and the ground infrastructure for provision of positioning, navigation and timing services. With the Galileo navigation system Europe will become independent of the American GPS system controlled by the US military.

The artwork “orbital ascent” pictures the historic launch at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), the European spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. The spaceport is a high tech facility surrounded by the Amazonian forest which creates not only a stirringly surrealistic setting, but can also serve as a metaphor for the strong and vital relationship between space exploration and planet Earth itself. The composition of the artwork strongly focuses on the relationship between the surface of our planet, the natural environment and Earth-observing space exploration technologies.

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gravity turn (2016)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

Orbital launch vehicles like the Ariane5 commonly take off vertically, and then begin to progressively lean over, usually following a smoothly curved trajectory. Once above the dense part of the atmosphere, the vehicle carefully angles the rocket engine jet, slowly pointing the launcher horizontally, which permits the vehicle to progressively aim at the required orbit while increasing its speed. As the speed grows, the vehicle approaches its target above Earth then, when the specified speed and orbital speed are reached, the upper stage engine is shut down.

The artwork “gravity turn“ visualises this physical process. The picture was taken during the milestone Ariane 5 VA233 launch at the Guiana Space Center (CSG) near Kourou in French Guiana on 17 November 2016. The launch vehicle and its smoke column build of solid propellant combustion were photographed during the pitchover maneuver about 90 seconds after liftoff, shortly before booster separation. The rocket´s flight path is no longer vertical, the gravital turn places the rocket on the correct heading for its ascent to orbit. Some minutes after the picture was taken, the launcher released four Galileo satellites in orbit, starting the service of the new European Navigation System.

The artwork combines a skywards view photographed by the artist from the ground near the launch pad with a view from sky towards the Earth photographed from an airplane flying over French Guiana.

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liquid time (2017)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

Glaciers are the largest reservoirs of fresh water on Earth and an essential element of the fragile ecological balance of our biospheres. Over recent decades, however, the majority of the world’s glaciers have suffered a drastic reduction in their mass as a consequence of global climate change. Rising temperatures across the world and the consequent shrinkage of glacial ice are to be attributed to the ever more potent greenhouse effect. This development poses a calamitous threat to the world population both present and future as the progressive retreat of glaciers and the melting of glacial ice leads to globally rising sea levels, flooding, loss of habitable land and scarcity of food and drinking water. Scientists have computed that the sea level will rise by from 8 to 88 centimeters by the year 2100. The melting of the Greenland ice sheet in the course of the 21st century would even raise the sea level by a drastic 7 meters. The present clearly observable disappearance of glaciers is no longer due to natural causes but must be ascribed to anthropogenic influences – as humankind and its technologies impact upon the Earth’s climate.

The work “liquid time” highlights the fragility of our ecological balance and the significance of the changing state from ice to water. Glaciers are storage houses of time; layer on layer they capture the air, water and oxygen of countless thousands of years. The picture was taken in winter 2017 in an ice cave under the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in Iceland which is now retreating at an annual rate of between approximately 80 - 100 meters. This singular ice cave was formed by melting glacial ice. The ice in “liquid time” has already undertaken a journey of a thousand years and now the process transforming it has set in with the first drops of water as signs of the transition from a solid to a liquid state. Glaciers have a highly delayed reaction to climatic changes; the ice world of “liquid time” simultaneously visualises the past history of the glacier and its future with the wave-like design of the motif serving as a premonition of the uptake of ice water by the sea. The transition from highly compact glacial ice to fluid sea water is irreversible; the numerous fissures and fractures signal the forthcoming transformation.

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planetary overview (2017)

Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

One important outcome of advanced space exploration is the appearance of a planetary overview system. The overview effect of seeing and feeling the unity of Earth is a meta-experience that was previously only accessible for astronauts. Today´s dramatically growing Earth-observation technologies intensify this effect and make it accessible to all of us. Yet this new way of measuring and visualizing the globe carries a stern ecological warning. Space exploration visions are not just focused outwards into space, they include the Earth as well. The dawning of a planetary overview system might intensify awareness of the ecological damage our planet is currently suffering. Advances in satellite technology, computer algorithms and processing power are now enabling scientists to expand their orbital observation of glacier regions. The goal is to understand how quickly glaciers and ice sheets melt - and thus how fast oceans rise - as temperatures increase.

The work “planetary overview” highlights observation of glacier change from space.
Satellite observation has revolutionised glaciology by creating new ways to map large terrestrial landscapes. It has enabled glacier inventories of entire countries to be taken, and underpinned our understanding of glacier recession and advance; it helps us to map glacier snow cover and mass balance as well as to track changes in ice sheet thickness and ice flow velocities; and has also allowed detailed changes in remote locations to be monitored. By using a camera positioned in space we can observe glacier behaviour on a much larger scale. “planetary overview” combines images taken from inside a crevasse in Iceland´s Breiðamerkurjökull glacier with several satellite images taken of the same glacier from an orbital position high in space. The work combines a micro- and macro-perspective, the inside view of the fragile glacier with the extreme distance view from outer space.

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new earth (2017)

Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

The human species is facing growing threats on planet Earth, threats that include overpopulation, climate change, diminishing resources, and shortages in the energy, food and water supply. Even though we obviously need to better protect our home planet now, colonisation of our solar system might well be the ultimate solution for guaranteeing the long-term survival of our species. Yet a range of major technical innovations are needed before we can implant and sustain life away from Earth. One such important innovation will be terraforming - the process whereby a hostile environment, i.e. a planet that is too cold, too hot, or that has an unbreathable atmosphere, is altered to make it suitable for human life.

The artwork “new earth” focuses on the process of transformation of a natural environment through energy input. This process is dialectic as it can be either creative or destructive. The driving element in this transformation is the sun. Such a process is no futuristic scenario but represents exactly what is happening on Earth at this moment as the process of atmospheric change brought about by increasing CO2 emissions heats up our planet and speeds up the process of climate change. Implicit in this work is the paradox that we might need to transform Mars into a habitable environment precisely because we are transforming our home planet into an uninhabitable one. The work combines footage from Icelandic glacier regions with landscape images taken by the Curiosity rover on Mars.

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starbot HR4DSE (2017)

Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

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f.a.s.t. (2017)

Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

The work pictures the largest astronomical radio telescope on earth. China built this staggeringly large instrument called the “Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope” in the remote and barely accessible southern mountainous region of the country. Inaugurated in 2016, the telescope was constructed in a natural sinkhole surrounded by the extraordinary mountains of the Pingtang valley. The telescope has an incredible diameter of 500 m. The surface is made of 4450 triangular metal panels shaped to the form of a geodesic dome. It can be tilted by computer to change the focus on different areas in the Universe. Radio telescopes use a large parabolic dish to collect radio waves from distant sources such as pulsars, black holes and gravitational waves. However, one of the main objectives of the instrument is to detect interstellar communication signals – picking up signals from alien civilizations.

The composition of the artwork “f.a.s.t.” focuses on the relationship between the natural environment and the cutting edge astronomical instrument which for the viewer evokes a sublime experience simply because of its overwhelming size and proportions in relation to the surrounding mountains. This relationship also extends from the ground to the distant stars in the sky. The artist was privileged to be given a unique opportunity to portray this extraordinary and unique astronomical instrument usually inaccessible to photographers. Searching for alien life means searching for the source of life in general and confronting a fundamental question facing humankind: where do we come from? Imagine that one day the first extraterrestrial communication signals will hit the surface of this spherical telescope. The inconceivable size of “f.a.s.t” is also a metaphor for the immeasurability of time and space which ranges from our own birth to the birth of the Universe itself.

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asteroid mining (2017)

Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

Water is the most abundant chemical compound in the Universe. It’s ubiquitous in our own solar system and fundamental to all life and business operations in space. Water is vital in supporting human habitation for things like drinking water, agriculture, radiation shielding, and oxygen. What’s more, water in the form of super-heated vapour can be used as a propellant. It can be broken down into its constituent parts – liquid hydrogen and oxygen – to be used as fuel. There are an estimated two trillion tonnes of water stored on near-Earth asteroids. Besides water, asteroid resources include all the materials planets are made of, offering an abundant supply of exactly what we need in space. Asteroids contain high quantities of important elements like organic carbon, sulphur, nitrogen, phosphorus, platinum and gold. The process of in-situ resource utilization – using materials native to space for propellants, thermal management, tankage, radiation shielding, and other high-mass components of space infrastructure – could help us in future to colonize our solar system. But water is the core resource that will support humans in space.

The artwork “asteroid mining” visualizes the idea of the future exploitation of raw materials, and especially water, from asteroids and other minor planets. It images the abundance of water in space with floating ice rocks and Eros, an asteroid whose orbit takes it somewhat close to Earth, as observed by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. If fuel made of water components could be manufactured and made available in space, it could be used to power aging satellites and other spacecraft that would otherwise be abandoned when their energy supplies run out, or to enable rockets to take off from Earth with less fuel, and then re-fuel in space. Asteroid-derived water could also be a resource both for consumption and for use as a radiation shield thus enabling longer manned space missions. Asteroid mining schemes are probably decades away from fruition, but they might become reality one day and help us further explore and colonize our solar system. Sourcing water is the first step in creating a civilization in space.

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spacewalk (2013)

HD video 16:9, single channel, stereo, 3.31 min.

The video work “spacewalk” explores linkages between space, gravity, and the human body. A cosmonaut glides down into what seems to be an industrial ambience. The sudden
appearance of the globe of the Earth through a porthole dislocates the cosmonaut’s environment and interrogates the relationship between real-world and fabricated reality.
The cosmonaut’s meta-voice reflects fundamental thoughts about the relationship between space, time, and movement in a text is based on Isaac Newton’s manuscript De Gravitatione from the seventeenth century.

The work draws on a cosmonaut training session taken by Michael Najjar in December 2012 at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. The artist himself, locked in his heavy Orlan-M spacesuit, is performing the “spacewalk” in the hydrolab, a deep tank filled with five million liters of water.

The video was realized in collaboration with Thomas Rusch and Dieter Jaufmann.

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equilibrium (2013)

HD video 16:9, single channel, stereo, 5.30 min.

The video work "equilibrium" explores processes of vertigo and disorientation. A pilot seated in a MiG-29 jetfighter is catapulted into the deep blue. Such a stratospheric flight to the edge of space allows the pilot to see the curvature of the Earth, the darkness of the sky and to experience high speed acceleration in combination with high g-forces. Extreme flight maneuvers cause disruptions of the human vestibular system which is responsible for our sense of balance and spatial orientation. Astronauts have to deal with the scrambling of these senses during their sojourns in zero gravity environments. The work draws on a stratospheric flight taken by Michael Najjar in December 2012 from Sokol airbase in Russia. During the flight, which was part of the artist’s cosmonaut training, he was exposed to a range of minus 1 to plus 7 g and experienced serious disruption of his sense of orientation.

The video was realized in collaboration with Dieter Jaufmann.

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skyfall (2015)

HD video 16:9, single channel, stereo, 4.00 min.

The video "skyfall" (2015) deals with the relationship between gravitational force and the human body. In its opening sequence the camera pans over a thick layer of cloud to the horizon. Suddenly the scenery starts to jump and jerk as gravity forces the viewer’s gaze downwards. Two attached bodies hurtle by in free fall towards the Earth, plummet unchecked through time and space, and gradually decelerate until there is only a few centimeters between them and the viewer with whom they seek direct eye contact. And now the fall changes into a weightless state of floating; the Earth’s gravitational force seems vanquished; the two bodies slowly rise again into the sky and recede into the distant haze. For man and machinery, overcoming the gravitational pullof the Earth is both the first requirement for space flight andits major hurdle.
"skyfall" is based on a HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jump which Michael Najjar was the first artist in the world to take in June 2014 in the USA. In tandem Najjar jumped from a plane at minus 50 degrees Celsius, and from a height of 10,000m hurtling in a two minute freefall at a speed of 300km/h towards the surface of the Earth.

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orbital cascade_57-46 (2013)

HD video 16:9, single channel, stereo, 6.00 min.

The video work "orbital cascade_57-46" visualizes the demographics of defunct objects in orbit around the Earth from 1957 to 2046. This includes everything from spent rocket stages, and old satellites to fragments resulting from disintegration, erosion, and collisions. Currently there are about 600,000 objects larger than 1cm (0.4in) in space, orbiting Earth at a velocity of approximately 28,000 kmph (17,400 mph) and posing a severe threat to satellites, space stations and manned spaceflights.

Drawn from a data archive, each spherule in the video represents a real existing object orbiting in space starting with the very first object in space, the Sputnik 1 satellite launched in 1957. 2013 marked the start of a simulated worst case future scenario that assumes two realistic collisions which would dramatically increase the amount of space debris, collisions known in aeronautics as the "cascade effect". The virtual camera flies up and down through various orbits, ending up deep in space looking down on Earth which will be entirely covered by space debris in the year 2046. The visualization was realized in collaboration with the Institute of Aerospace Systems @ TU Braunschweig, Germany.

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terraforming (2017)

HD video, 9.10 min., single channel, stereo

The video work “terraforming” focusses on the transformation of a natural environment through energy input. The underpinning idea is that of three phase system change. This begins with the stage of equilibrium where a system is in a certain balance and not changing at all. In the next stage an evolving system enters a state of motion and change where it moves away from equilibrium. The third and final stage is the phase of transformation in which the original system becomes something else. The key element in this transformation process is the sun. This process is called terraforming, whereby a hostile environment, i.e. a planet that is too cold, too hot, or has an unbreathable atmosphere, can be altered to make it suitable for human life. Such a process is not merely a futuristic scenario but represents exactly what is happening on Earth at this moment as the process of atmospheric change brought about by increasing CO2 emissions heats up our planet and speeds up the process of climate change.

The video combines footage taken during a three week trek through Iceland in early 2017 with Martian landscapes shot by NASA´s Curiosity Mars rover. Calving glaciers, shiny ice caves and powerful waterfalls enter into a visual dialogue with the vast desert landscapes of Mars. Implicit in the visual dialogue is the paradox that we might need to transform Mars into an inhabitable environment precisely because we are transforming our home planet into an uninhabitable one. The work creates a bridge between the work of the German photographer and filmmaker Alfred Ehrhardt who in 1938 undertook a two-month photo and film expedition across Iceland. This adventurous journey led him into untouched "primal landscape" shaped by glaciers and volcanoes, where he hoped to gain insights into the origins of the Earth. His work is driven by a typological approach to landscape using an abstract, avant-garde visual vocabulary.

Accompanied by Dieter Jaufmann, Michael Najjar filmed many of the same locations that Alfred Ehrhardt visited almost a century ago. Ehrhardt’s goal of discovering the Earth´s origins is paired to the most existential question of the 21st century: saving the Earth’s future.

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Artist Portrait 'ARD - titel thesen temperamente'

"Reise ins Weltall", titel thesen temperamente, 23.3.2014, www.ard.de

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MISSION : SPACE (2015)

HD video, stereo, 47:41 min.

Artist Michael Najjar is preparing himself for a journey into space as part of his „outer space“ art project. This documentary film shows his preparations at various aerospace training centers in the USA, Germany and Russia.

Michael Najjar is acting, on the one hand, as a concept artist and, on the other as his own protagonist using his own body for the performative action. Through the use of his own body, Najjar‘s works are related to the Body Art movement, in which artists in the 1960s discovered use of their own bodies as material, and at the same time to Performance art which emerged from the marriage of performing arts and visual arts.

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