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
In the not too distant future our view of the starry sky at night might well be drastically changed for ever. The American company SpaceX founded by Elon Musk plans to envelop the Earth with a global network of satellites. In the past few months the Starlink project has already put 400 new satellites into orbit and ultimately intends to have a mega-constellation of up to 42,000 satellites circling the Earth. The project aims to optimise terrestrial data traffic and bring internet connectivity to every corner of the Earth. Other companies are also planning to put satellites into low Earth orbit. Such a development would cause tremendous light pollution in the night sky. In their low orbit these highly reflective satellites are visible on the horizon to the naked eye but, more than that, they also have a massive impact on ground-based astronomical observations across the whole world. Their high level of light reflection makes the Starlink satellites so bright, especially at twilight, that they seriously interfere with the sensors of highly sensitive telescopes, severely impeding scientific observation of the universe. Some 6000 stars are visible in the unclouded sky at night yet in future at least twice as many signals may be expected from the Starlink project alone. The sky at night will be filled with man-made streaks of light and soon we will no longer be able to look up at the stars as we used to.
The work “starlink” visualises light pollution in our sky at night. The composition of the picture shows a hilly landscape and a starry night sky with a long flat building embedded between them serving as a connecting element. The viewer's gaze is first led into the picture over a stony hill landscape. Tracks on the left side of picture lead it to the night-time illuminated building whose horizontal length stretches across the whole picture. A slight elevation of line quickens the viewer's gaze leading it to the heaven of shinning stars crossed by multiple diagonally running trails of light. The image of the starry sky is one taken by the Victor M. Blanco Telescope in the Atacama Desert in Chile in November 2019, shortly after another batch of new Starlink satellites were put into orbit. The diagonally running tracks are caused by sunlight reflecting off the man-made celestial objects. The night-time illuminated building is one of the remotest and most enigmatic places on our planet. Entrenched in the Atacama Desert at an altitude of 2600 meters, it is home to scientists and astronomers who night after night probe deep into our universe with their battery of instruments. The artist was privileged to spend two nights in this magic place and photograph the building. There too and all over the world the research work of astronomers will now be seriously impeded. The Starlink satellite network will have a major and lasting impact on the aesthetics and purity of our sky at night as technology inscribes itself large on our starry heaven.