Reflections of human vulnerability in outer space
A chance to reflect on life while on an endless journey into outer space, this is how one could describe the multimedia installation Tender Time, made by researchers and students at Malmö University and now on display in Venice.
The inspiration for Tender Time is the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft that were launched by NASA in 1977 to explore the outer most reaches of the universe. For more than 40 years, they have travelled through space and transmitted data to Earth.
With the Golden Record, NASA deliberately avoided boring and sad things, it contains nothing about disease and nothing about war with the disc only giving a positive image of the Earth.
“The idea is that the entire installation is about human vulnerability, but we’ve taken Voyager as a point of departure and the optimism found in that journey into outer space,” says Bo Reimer, professor of media and communication studies and director of the Medea research lab.
The Voyager spacecraft have now left our solar system, the only spacecraft ever to do so. Their travels could last another three billion years, continuing long after the Sun has absorbed our planet. On board there is a gold-plated copper disc with sound including greetings in 55 languages, pictures, and music sound scaping life on Earth, it is known as the Golden Record.
Tender Time is part of the biennial Time Space Existence exhibition located in the Venetian Palazzo Bembo building. Along with architect and design companies, there are around 40 universities, of which Malmö University is the only one from Sweden. The exhibition runs for six months and is expected to receive half a million visitors.
Tender Time consists of three parts: an animation on two large walls showing Voyager 1 travelling through space. The second part is a video that gives a picture of human vulnerability today. The third part of the installation is a 92-minute-long soundtrack that accompanies the animation. The group from Medea Lab has remixed the music and sounds from The Golden Record with new music and people's stories about what they regret in their lives.
The different parts are looped so that it is never exactly the same experience. Additionally, there is a notebook in which visitors can write what they regret in life.
“With the Golden Record, NASA deliberately avoided boring and sad things, it contains nothing about disease and nothing about war with the disc only giving a positive image of the Earth. In our work, people reflect on what they regret and how they view their lives,” says Reimer, adding:
“We want to give an opportunity to reflect on life and hope that when you walk in and sit down and watch Voyager, which be around long after we ourselves are gone, it will provoke thoughts such as: ‘Who am I?’, ‘What do I want in life?’".
Text: Magnus Jando & Adrian Grist
Learn more about Tender Time
The exhibition is on display from 20 May – 26 November in Room 16, Palazzo Bembo, Venice. Behind Tender Time is the multidisciplinary research group Medea Lab and around twenty researchers and students.