"On February 14, 1990, before permanently turning off its cameras, NASA’s Voyager 1 briefly turned towards Earth to snap one last picture. Shot from a distance of 4 billion miles, our planet appears as a pale blue dot, suspended in a sunbeam."Carl Sagan
Zoom Blue Dot is constructed as a kinetic two-channel video installation where a custom-made robot with two video projectors, facing opposite directions, slowly traverses a darkened exhibition space in a curved trajectory. The continuous movement causes the projections to continuously shrink and expand across the gallery environment, reflecting and deforming the architectural boundaries. As a way to additionally destabilize the spatial relationships in the installation, Bull.Miletic constructed a reflective Mylar curtain that covers the venue’s glass wall facade. Micro movements in the reflective curtain caused by the airflow in the room produce continuous deformations and changes in the projected images. Invented in the mid 1950s in USA, reflective metalized Mylar is largely used both in space exploration and LCD technologies.
The videos in the installation are a take on the visual communication research conducted by the American design couple Ray and Charles Eames in their legendary films Powers of Ten (1977) and A Rough Sketch (1968). As opposed to Eameses’ camera that travels from the outer limits of the observable universe into the molecular structure of the human body, the camera in Zoom Blue Dot zooms into the Pale Blue Dot image of Earth displayed on an smartphone in the desert. As the camera zooms in, the video eventually penetrates the electronic image’s material support, revealing the material layers of the Liquid Crystal Display.
The key focus of Zoom Blue Dot is the overly mediatized representation of Earth as a scalable interface, facilitated through a combination of remote sensing technologies and data analyses software. By diving into the material layers of the smartphone display this work reflects on how the proliferation of scalable and composite mediations of Earth is inextricably tied up in multiple ways with the Anthropocene, a proposed name of our epoch that signals the significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems.
The acclaimed American composer Phill Niblock created the original soundtrack for the installation. The soundtrack is not in sync with the video, i.e. the relationship between the sound and the image is in perpetual development. Niblock’s soundtrack is periodically “interrupted” by fragments of selected compositions from the Voyager Interstellar Record (1977).
The production of the work was generously supported by Arts Council Norway, Arts Research Center and Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society at University of California, Berkeley. The work was realized during a semester-long Arts + Science Residency at University of California, Berkeley in collaboration with Holly L. Aaron at the Molecular Imaging Center, Danielle Jorgens at the Electron Microscopy Lab, Vasfi Burak Ozdol at the Molecular Foundry, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Christopher Myers at CITRIS Invention Lab.
Zoom Blue Dot is part of the artistic research project Proxitsant Vision. The Proxistant Vision research project has been in part developed during PhD Fellowships at Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo, and Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, Norwegian University of Science and Technology in the period between the 2015 and 2019.
The initial prototype of the work was exhibited in the exhibition Zoom Blue Dot at Trøndelag Senter For Samtidskunst, March 22–April 15, 2018, as part of the official program of the electronic art biennial Meta.Morf 2018 – A Beautiful Accident.
Zoom Blue Dot has been presented at the foloowing conferences and seminars: