This blog and my Instagram account will keep you updated about the "outer space" series.
21 June, 2019
New artwork "lunar explorers"
20, July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s first moon landing in the Sea of Tranquillity, one of the most challenging adventures in human history. During six NASA missions from 1969 to 1972, a roll-call of twelve men landed, walked, drove and worked on the moon: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Harrison Schmitt, and Eugene Cernan. The successive Apollo crews brought a wealth of scientific instruments to the moon´s surface and performed hundreds of experiments, monitored from Earth by radio telemetry, which have revolutionized our understanding of the celestial body and its relationship to Earth. However, the most significant tangible objects obtained from the moon landings and the Apollo program may well be those photos showing how our Earth appears from the surface of the moon. Looking homeward from that great distance and seeing the Earth as a tiny precious oasis of life lost in the vastness of space has generated a totally new sense of what it means to be human. The Apollo program has created a very profound shift in our anthropological perspective, as suddenly and for the first time we can actually see that we are all one planet and one intricately interconnected ecosystem.
The artwork “lunar explorers” is a homage to the first moon landing 50 years ago and the twelve moonwalkers, the most important explorers of the last century. Equipped with Hasselblad cameras, the Apollo astronauts took thousands of photographs; these unprocessed versions of original NASA scans are the source material on which this artwork is based. The composition of the lunar landscape highlights the emptiness of the virgin territory but also the first scientific human activities on another celestial body. The artwork shows the twelve astronauts walking and working together on the lunar surface, conducting experiments, collecting rock samples, driving around with the lunar rover and taking pictures. The left panel of the triptych features the crew of Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin while the right panel shows the Apollo 17 crew, Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan, the last man on the moon thus far. The centrepiece is given to the other eight astronauts and their diverse activities and technical installations. The grey tones of the arid lunar landscape contrast with the shimmering blue of the Earth which appears as a far distant home while the antenna of the Lunar Roving Vehicle directed at Earth seems a point of connection between our home planet and these extra-terrestrial activities. For centuries, fascination with the moon has created an ideal realm in which our imaginations and phantasies about the expansion of human presence in outer space may freely roam. The moon landing was such a tremendously inspirational event because it demonstrated that human beings can accomplish seemingly impossible ventures when they come together and work together for something that’s much bigger than themselves. Of the 12 Apollo astronauts shown in this artwork, only four are still alive today.
08 June, 2019
Photo shooting at CERN
Michael was given the extreme rare opportunity to take pictures at the world famous scientific laboratory CERN, where he spent 3 intesive days with access to the some of the most cutting edge reserach technology on the planat. The key focus of CERN adresses humanity´s fundamental question What is the universe made of?
The European Organization for Nuclear Research known as CERN is a European research organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Established in 1954, the organization is based in a northwest suburb of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border and has 23 member states. CERN's main function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research. Physicists and engineers at CERN use the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – fundamental particles. Subatomic particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives us clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature. Scientist at CERN want to advance the boundaries of human knowledge by delving into the smallest building blocks of our universe.
The instruments used at CERN are purpose-built particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before the beams are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.
The Russian Soyuz rocket is now the world's most used space launcher with over 1800 flights since its debut in 1966, far more than any other rocket launcher. Since the retirement of the American Space Shuttle fleet in 2011, the Soyuz rocket and its spacecraft has been the only launcher capable of flying astronauts and cosmonauts to the International Space Station. In 2005, the European Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency gave final approval for the launching of Soyuz rockets from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou. Construction of the new pad was completed in April 2011.
The artwork "ignition" visualizes a Soyuz launcher taking off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 5th April 2019. The launch vehicle is 46 meters high and weighs 300 tonnes. The picture captures the rocket at the exact moment it leaves the launch pad. The composition highlights the single interactive dynamic system formed by the launch pad, the support brackets and the rocket itself during the first seconds of ignition and lift-off. The support brackets have just opened to release the rocket, powerful flames illuminate the brackets while the smoke escaping through the flame trench envelops the white shining rocket. Although painted olive green, the rocket turns white during lift-off due to the reaction between liquid oxygen and rocket propellant which covers the vehicle in a layer of ice. The artwork gives a simultaneous contradictory impression of powerful acceleration and motionless standstill: the tremendous pressure, the intense heat and the ear-splitting sound wave are all tangible, yet the rocket itself seems to be frozen, suspended in time and space.
Edition of 6, 132 x 202 cm / 79.5 x 52 in and 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in
18 May, 2019
"intergalactic" exhibition at BNKR in Munich
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, the group exhibition Intergalactic deals with the artistic exploration of outer space. Outer space here lies at the centre of the creative and critical debate as a speculative projection surface for artists and visionaries alike. The inspiring range of exhibition contributions from all over the world includes such diverse media as photography, sculpture, installation and film. Intergalactic marks the end of the exhibition cycle curated by Lukas Feireiss, which since September 2018, under the title SPACE IS THE PLACE, has been dedicated to the artistic perception and appropriation of space and architecture in various exhibitions, a symposium and numerous public events. Taking into account theoretically as well as practically founded disciplines, a kind of artistic securing of evidence has been taking place through which the space surrounding us is opened up as an object of investigation in a variety of ways. Intergalactic takes the discussion to the final frontier: outer space.
Group exhibition with:
Nuotama Bodomo, Caroline Corbasson, Alicja Kwade, Nahum, Michael Najjar ,
Curated by Lukas Feireiss
Exhibition period: 24 May - 12 July 2019
Venue: BNKR, Ungererstrasse 158, 80805 München
12 April, 2019
SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch
From French Guiana I travelled directly to Florida / Cape Canaveral to photograph the first commercial launch of SpaceX´s Falcon Heavy rocket. The Falcon Heavy is 70 meters high, it´s a reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle and currently the most powerful rocket in the world. The successful liftoff was on 11 April. The 2 side boosters landed at Cape Canaveral 8 min. after liftoff and the main stage a bit later on a drone ship far away on the Atlantic ocean.
Foto: USAF / James Rainier
08 April, 2019
Shooting of Soyuz rocket launch in French Guiana
From 27 March to 5 May I returned to French Guiana for a photo shooting at the European spaceport CSG. Not only Ariane rockets are launched from there but also Russian Soyuz rockets. I was given the permssion to take pictures of the VS22 mission, which send 4 O3B satellites into space. I assited the assembly, the roll out and the launch of course. This time we installed one of my Hasselblad cameras directly on the launch tower, something that has been never tried before. The camera was only 80 meters away from the rocket during the launch. It was not clear if the camera will survive the heat and the pressure waves. However it worked and the result was an incredible spactacular launch picture which will become soon a new artwork within my "outer space" series.
I also took pictures at the construction site of the new launchpad for the the Ariane6. This will be the next generation of Europe´s space launch vehicles. The maiden fligfht of Ariane6 is scheduled for 2020.
Many thanks to Arianespace for the fantastic suspport !!
12 March, 2019
CIVILIZATION exhibition opened at the UCCA Beijing
Civilization: The Way We Live Now presents more than 250 works by over 120 of the world’s most renowned photographic artists, offering a complex and sprawling vision of contemporary life. The images gathered here, produced in the past 25 years, speak to the changes brought about by globalization, and draw attention both to the increasing amount of complexity and conflict, and to the unprecedented degree of interdependence, that characterize life today. They attest, as well, to the development of the medium of photography, and its ability to document these sweeping changes. Organized in collaboration between UCCA and the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, the Beijing presentation of Civilization is curated by William A. Ewing and Holly Roussell. Michael Najjar participates in the exhibition with several artworks from his acclaimed "outer space" series.
Civilization has been produced by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography (FEP), Minneapolis and Lausanne. After its first showing at the MMCA in Seoul in 2018, the current exhibition in China it will travel on to Australia, Europe and the Americas.
You can click the video button to see the installation video - which is spectacular.
Video: Courtesy UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, produced by Action Media.
Lecture at the European Space Research and Technology Center
In February 2019 Michael was invited to give a lecture at the European Space Research and Technology Center ESTEC in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. It is the European Space Agency's main technology development and test centre for spacecraft and space technology. At ESTEC, about 2500 engineers, technicians and scientists work hands-on with mission design, spacecraft and space technology. ESTEC provides extensive testing facilities to verify the proper operation of spacecraft, such as the Large Space Simulator (LSS), acoustic and electromagnetic testing bays, multi-axis vibration tables and the ESA Propulsion Laboratory (EPL). Prior to launch, almost all of the equipment that ESA launches is tested in some degree at ESTEC.
Michael recently portrayed the Large Space Simulator at ESTEC and was now given the opportunity to present his "outer space" project to an expert audience of world leading scientists and engineers.
A Bright Future - New Scientist magazine publicates the artwork "synlight"
In the 12/January 2019 edition the reknown UK magazine New Scientist publicates Michael´s artwork "synlight". The world’s biggest artificial sun has been blazing at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Jülich since 2017. Development of new production processes for solar fuels is the focus of this globally unique Synlight facility for solar research. It consists of 149 powerful Xenon short-arc lamps which scientists can concentrate on a target surface of 20 x 20 centimetres. If this surface is irradiated with beams of up to 350 kilowatts, a light intensity is produced equivalent to more than 10,000 times the solar radiation on the surface of the Earth. When the lamps are focussed they create temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees Celsius which researchers use to produce fuels such as hydrogen. Hydrogen is widely held to be the fuel of the future as it burns without giving off carbon dioxide. Production of hydrogen involves the splitting of the basic material, water, into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen.
The artwork “synlight” portrays the futuristic sun simulator at the German Aerospace Center. Hydrogen is a crucial basic material for spaceflight, and is used as fuel by rockets, spaceships and satellites. As there’s an abundance of water in space - asteroids, for instance, harbour plentiful reserves - in future solar energy could be used to produce the fuel directly in space. This facility with its 149 powerful short-arc lamps was photographed from three different perspectives on one linear axis. The triptych-based composition of the picture layers and fuses the three perspectives so as to exemplify the basic idea of the splitting of a water molecule into two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. The background highlights the industrial research nature of the artificial sunlight facility and underscores its awesome dimensions. Development of solar fuels is essential not just for spaceflight alone but also for our own lives on Earth because in tomorrow’s world renewable energies will form the backbone of the global energy supply.
Michael Najjar has been a member of the Virgin Galactic Pioneer Astronaut team since 2012. After many years of development and testing, setbacks and progress, on the 13th December 2018 Spaceship VSS Unity at long last reached the border of space during a historic test flight. After many years of accompanying and supporting this project and undergoing numerous space training sessions in Germany, the US and Russia, Michael´s goal of becoming the first artist in space now is finally within reach.