mars cubes


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 May 5, 2018, NASA launched a stationary lander called InSight to Mars. Riding along with InSight were two CubeSats, small, boxy satellites the size of a carry-on suitcase. These probes will be the first CubeSats to voyage to another planet and could lead to a shift in how we explore the solar system. So far, no CubeSat has ever left low Earth orbit, which is within 160 km of the Earth’s surface. The two CubeSats have to fly, by themselves, across more than 200 million km of deep space during their six-and-a-half-month journey, supposed to reaching Mars orbit in November 2018. If successful, the mission could alter the speed and the way of communication between earth and other planets. Exploring the solar system is absurdly expensive. But with tiny, hitchhiking satellites like the CubeSats, there may finally be a way to explore other planets on a shoestring. NASA envisions launching swarms of CubeSats, each carrying a single instrument or performing a single task. CubSats may search for ice on the moon, study how yeast deal with space radiation, scout near Earth for asteroids or measure space weather. In the future we could send sacrificial CubeSats to the solar system’s most hellish places, such as the surface of Venus, the plumes of Europa or inside the volcanoes of Jupiter’s moon Io.

The artwork “mars cubes“ visualises the two twin CubeSats on the way to Mars. Based on original technical drawings and pictures taken during the construction process at Nasa´s JPL laboratory the object was virtually rebuild with 3D computer software. The construction of a modern satellite is in no way conditioned by aesthetic necessity, in terms of colour or form and figure – they are built purely by scientific necessity. However they reveal their visible recognition of the effectiveness of utilitarian perfection when they are floating in dark space and in conditions of weightlessness. The composition is very much inspired by the drawings of the Russian constructivists. The conquest of space and the construction of satellites had already appeared as an aesthetic vision in the Constructivist movement in the early 20th century. Kazimir Malevich and El Listzky created visions of Suprematist satellites in the 1920s, imaging new objects in space, moving in orbit and creating their own paths. Today these visions have become a reality. The vast black discloses the complex shape of the small satellite and serves as an actual representation of the infinite. At the same time the artwork questions the relation of dynamic, fragileness and proportions incorporated in this tiny machine, which is supposed to start a new era of exploring our planetary system.


Personally liable:
Michael Najjar

Design concept & coding: Matthias Hübner,
with support by Marco Land

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