starship ascension


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 the early morning of April 20, 2023, a massive dust cloud unfolds on the horizon at the Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas. A shockwave rolls across the sea, and a blaze ignites within the dust cloud. Slowly, almost in slow motion, the colossal 120 m tall and over 5,000 tonne heavy Starship rocket rises into the Texan sky from the brown-yellow cloud. It is the largest spacecraft ever built by humans. A fully reusable interplanetary transportation system intended to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond. For the first time, the complete rocket system, consisting of the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy booster, launches into space. Powered by 33 Raptor engines, generating an incredible 62,000 kilonewtons (kN) of thrust from a combination of cryogenic liquid oxygen and methane, the Starship is propelled into orbit above the Pacific Ocean. What remains hidden to the observer's eye from a distance is captured by high-speed cameras placed near the launch pad by the artist: the tremendous energy unleashed by the engines creates a crater in the launch pad, hurling rocks through the air, destroying three of the Raptor engines and parts of the launch pad itself.

The artwork "starship ascension" portrays the moment of liftoff during the historic inaugural flight of the Starship rocket system. A hurricane-like blast wave of fire and dust sweeps across the launch pad – an inferno from which the Starship slowly and majestically ascends. The viewer's gaze is immediately drawn to the massive, sleek black spacecraft, pulling them into the pictorial space. Simultaneously, a multitude of rocks of various sizes menacingly approach the viewer. The yellow-brown dust cloud sweeps over the landscape, directly heading towards the observer. The composition of the image is antagonistic. While the ascending spacecraft, seemingly frozen in space and time, occupies the center of the image, dust clouds and rocks rush towards the viewer in a central perspective. Experiencing and perceiving this situation up close is impossible for a human. Through remotely controlled camera systems, the artist has captured photographic images, later utilizing a multi-layered digital collage process to create a simulated reality that allows the viewer to sense and experience the immense power and visionary magic of this moment.


Personally liable:
Michael Najjar

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

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