Material: An Index for the Future
Material collects things that signal new forms of living. To produce concepts for future use, Material embraces instability, indexing happenings and lifestyles that reflect experimentation, exploration, conflict, and the mutations of everyday life. We mean Material as in material world and also as in raw material. It means we look at things from a materialist perspective ... [+]
Introduction: Space Race
Why is the first issue of Material about space? Material 1 is about space because starting here reflects one of our central means of observation: to understand the whole, you have to start with the extreme. Peruse the borders. Mark your limits. Establish the frontier. ... [+]
What I Found in Carl Sagan’s Journals
I began racing through the faded scans, not knowing exactly what I was looking for. I had imagined that I would find essays about public outreach, or entries about meaningful exchanges he had with his students. But that’s not what I found. Within his ramblings and messy scribbles were musings about the roots of Christmas tree ornaments, hypotheses about Freud’s psychological insights ... [+]
Excerpts From the Journals of Carl Sagan: 1969-1979
December 14, 1969: The caudal bone is near the genitals. I bet the musculature for wagging a tail involves some of the muscles in sexual activity. Are dogs and cats sexually turned on when they wag their tails? Note how nicely this correlates with the nature of the beasts—the dog sexually excited when happy—the cat is annoyed or irritated. ... [+]
There’s Life on Mars: Behind the Scenes At a Simulated Martian Colony
There are many ways to visit outer space. One way is to pretend you're already there. Right now six research volunteers are doing just that, in a small dome perched on the side of the Mauna Loa volcano on the big island of Hawaii. From October of last year until this June, the third mission of the NASA-sponsored Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) project is undertaking ... [+]
Why Do Beverage Companies Keep Sending Shit Into Space?
Red Bull. Jose Cuervo. Ardbeg Whiskey. Pocari Sweat. What do these four large beverage companies have in common? They're all part of a new wave of grand-scaled stunt marketing that uses outer space as a billboard. But what does it mean to live in a time when a soft drink can orbit the Earth, or explore the moon? ... [+]
Sex, Drugs and Carbon Dioxide: A Guide to Colonizing Mars
Mars appears to be the next destination in the human journey to outer space: with frozen water and a day length comparable to that of Earth, Mars has a lot going for it, but establishing a permanent human colony may be the epitome of “easier said than done.” To make the process a little easier, we created a detailed guide to building the Mars colony. ... [+]
From an Abandoned McDonald’s, Space Pirates Hijack a Satellite
In the spring of 2014, former NASA employee Keith Cowing and a crew of volunteers successfully hijacked the ISEE-3, a NASA spacecraft in solar orbit launched in 1978. Operating independently from NASA, the “citizen scientist" crew adopted a “spacecraft for all" approach, carrying out a space mission that was entirely crowd-funded and open-source. The ISEE-3 reboot team set up their ... [+]
Exobiotanica: Azuma Makoto Sends Flowers to Space
For his art piece “Exobiotanica,” Azuma Makoto traveled to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to launch a white pine bonsai tree and a floral bouquet into the stratosphere. Makoto’s team collaborated with California-based JP Aerospace, a volunteer organization that calls itself “America’s OTHER Space Program.” Makoto and JP Aerospace used helium balloons for the launch. The project ... [+]
Mars for Everyone: The HiRise Imaging Project
For ages, our stereotypical image of Mars has been a red desert: both the ancient Egyptian and Indian names, for example, refer to the planet’s red coloring, which stems from a extremely thin veneer of surface dust. An ongoing project of NASA and the University of Arizona, The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRise) reveals Mars like you’ve never seen it before, in part because the ... [+]
Faces of Space: Archival NASA Portraits
Our collective visual memory of the NASA space program has been collaged largely from several decades of official portraits, PR photo ops, and breathtaking vistas of the Earth and the heavens. The surface narrative told by these images has heavily focused on depicting the collective heroism responsible for humankind’s greatest achievement. This curated selection of images ... [+]
How Private Industry is Winning the Space Race
Private enterprise is changing outer space. As NASA moves from an organization that travels to space to one that invests in space, private enterprise is forever altering how we experience space as a frontier for man, by altering our altering how we experience space as a human frontier, by influencing our imagination of space and by democratizing access to it. There are no countries in space. ... [+]
Martian Drug Trip: Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
In Philip K. Dick’s hallucinatory sci-fi novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Earth’s first Martian colony is a lonesome, hardscrabble place that keeps its handful of occupants under the twin spells of boredom and isolation. The colonists have one means of escape from their living conditions: they chew a psychedelic narcotic called CAN-D and participate in a group virtual reality game ... [+]
Vincent Fournier: Space Project
For his Space Project series, French photographer Vincent Fournier explores the hidden technological worlds of space exploration across the globe, unveiling uncanny moments in places like the French Guiana Space Centre, a Norwegian radar array, the cosmonaut training center in Star City, Russia, and the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. Fournier’s photographs traverse the visual ... [+]
Space Junk: Souvenirs From the Final Frontier
These days obtaining your own special piece of space history is no sweat: you can find second-hand space junk in resale venues like auctions, eBay listings and garage sales. A Russian spacesuit, a bit of Astro-food, a mixtape from Apollo, or an incomprehensible grey box with an LCD screen, all are up on the chopping block. The space junk subculture offers history buffs and sci-fi fetishists the chance ... [+]
Eye in the Sky: Live Stream of Planet Earth
On April 18th, 2014, a new experiment called the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) was installed in the International Space Station, after being delivered by the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. HDEV consists of four commercial HD video cameras that provide uninterrupted streaming footage of planet Earth viewed from stationary orbit. This real-time eye in the sky is accessible to anyone ... [+]
The Voyager Golden Record: Postcards From Planet Earth
A message in a bottle. The first cosmic mixtape. A letter from home that may never reach its destination. Compiled for NASA by a Cornell University committee led by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan in 1977, copies of the Golden Record are currently carried aboard both Voyager I and Voyager II spacecraft as they plunge without terminus into deep space. As detailed in the book Murmurs of Earth, ... [+]
Cassini Orbiter: Rings of Saturn
In 2013, NASA’s unmanned Cassini orbiter probe sent back to Earth some of the most precise images of the planet Saturn and its rings ever taken, so precise that they achieved a distinctly abstract quality. Captured with a scientific eye, the Cassini images convey a minimalist sensibility, like National Geographic photos art-directed by Peter Saville. Cassini’s images reveal the challenges facing ... [+]
Frontier Music: How Brian Eno Pioneered “Space Country”
Early in the film Trainspotting, junkie protagonist Renton dives into ‘The Worst Toilet in Scotland’ to retrieve some opium suppositories. Sliding down the toilet bowl, he passes through a surrealistic rabbit hole and emerges on the other ... [+]
Red Bull in Space
On 14 October, 2012, The Red Bull Stratos mission shot Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner into the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere for the sake of a ten-minute freefall “from the edge of space,” an unprecedented stunt live-streamed across the mediasphere. Baumgartner set new altitude records for manned balloon flight, highest parachute jump, and greatest free fall velocity ... [+]
NASAgram: Space Goes Social
The cosmos is a busy place: thanks to the public-relations efforts of NASA’s social media department we can participate in NASA’s efforts to explore, utilize and colonize space more than ever before, encountering otherworldly images of space in feeds more known for selfies, dinner pics, and photo bombs. At the same time, the NASA Instagram feed also embraces the medium, incorporating selfies ... [+]
The Overview Effect
This short documentary by The Planetary Collective explores what many astronauts, scientists and experts have come to refer to as the “overview effect": the experience of viewing Earth from the vantage point of stationary orbit. This macro perspective on our world produces a mental collision between two sensations: the sense of how enormous our planet is, and at the same time ... [+]
A Blessing From The Space Priest
On Nov. 7, 2013, Russian Orthodox Priest Father Sergei blesses a Sochi Olympic Torch bound for the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The ceremony, similar to those conducted before every Russian space launch, took place at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan in 2013. The torch spent three successful days in space before returning to Earth and ... [+]