Wednesday, January 22, 2014

this was tomorrow #14

  "vintage Nasa photographs, 1964-1983 -An exhibition detailing the achievements of Nasa – covering the golden age of space exploration –  featuring over 100 rare photographs" - The Guardian on the For All Mankind exhibition at Breese Little gallery,  London, 22nd January – 22nd February 2014

This is tomorrow, again?

So asserts the For All Mankind catalogue: 

"The achievements of NASA and the Apollo programme languished in the popular imagination from the end of the 1970s until the early 2000s, neglected in the wake of previous euphoria. The exploration of Mars, space tourism, the commercial satellite market and China’s recent rover landing on the Moon are clear signals that space exploration is once again at the very forefront of public and, increasingly, private agendas. The exploration of space has likewise renewed its grip on the popular consciousness. Motion pictures such as Moon (2009), Gravity (2013) and Interstellar (due for release 2014) are fresh examples of the narrative possibilities of space in the Hollywood science fiction tradition."

Definitely does seem to be an uptick of cultural interest in outer space, for no apparent reason. 

However, the actual "space exploration, it's ON again" stuff that's been happening recently.... Okay, it's cool that it's going on on at all, after such a long hiatus...  China's Moon rover  indicates serious intent to restart the space race, even if it is mostly impelled by the urge to flex geopolitical muscle (make space a Chinese place). (India too has grand plans, for similar reasons).

But if you think about it, all China has done is repeat something that was achieved 43 years ago. Not even repeat it, because NASA got a bunch of human beings on the lunar surface - a much huger endeavour than getting an inanimate entity, a titchy robo-vehicle, up there. So far at least, the People's Republic has reinvented the wheel, and on a miniature scale.

Branson's Virgin flights into the bit of space just above the atmosphere - again, it's hardly vacations on the Moon, is it?

                       lift-off of the final Apollo mission to the Moon in 1972, the one with the Eugene Cirnan monologue                                        that Daft Punk used on "Contact"

Full catalogue for For All Mankind viewable here (some 287 pix!)

 Related essay here by  Henry Little, For All Mankind: A Brief Cultural History of the Moon (originally published by The White Review, September 2013)



1 comment:

  1. Thanks for highlighting this exhibit. (I was in London last week but didn't know about alas). If you're interested, there's a lovely little book by Marina Benjamin called "Rocket Dreams." Came out about ten years ago but she really tried to capture the ways in which the futurism of the space age of the 1960s was lost, preserved only in off-color photos and 1960s nostalgia. She also has some interesting comparisons with the (now-lost) cultural impulse of the space age and the emergence of the internet as a 'space' for dreaming. This was still in the early days of the internet (well, the early 2000s) but it holds up well. A review here:
    Also, my essay on Soviet cosmic enthusiasm, on post-socialist 'nostalgia for the future' here: