Thursday, 1 September 2016

'Chasing Stars': ESA inspired space art at Blackpool Illuminations 2016

Last night (Wed 31st August) was the press launch for a new collaborative work created between myself, Ross Ashton of The Projection Studio, and several other partners. This piece is the result of a unique international collaboration. The European Space Agency has been an invaluable partner and has provided constant support throughout the creation of the piece. British astronaut Tim Peake stars as our ‘narrator’. The music for the soundtrack is by Vangelis, from his yet-to-be-released album 'Rosetta', a generous exchange involving amazing support from Universal Music. That is a real exclusive in support of such a unique art/science project.
Another part of the team is Dr Nick Lister, astronomer and creator of the Lawrence House Astronomy and Space Science Centre who nurtured a very special aspect of the project with us – more on that later! 

To every single one of our partners above, we offer our grateful thanks for being part of this adventure. 

Here is our taster video of just a hint of what you will see if you come to Blackpool over the next two months.

‘Chasing Stars’ as a son et lumiere piece and a project has several equally important aims.

Our first aim is to combine science and art by taking the viewer on a journey through space. When we developed this idea, we knew that real life is as strange as fiction, and believe that art is just as important as science. Therefore, in this piece, we decided the journey stages would be formed from real space missions undertaken by the ESA. No fiction is stranger than fact and the truly mind-expanding concepts and details of current space exploration are comparable to the stuff of legend. 
Ross and myself absorb much of this with a great deal of wonder and respect for people who commit their lives to this work, not least those who travel and challenge the frontiers of survival in space, an environment hostile to humans. Most recently, that has included British astronaut Tim Peake. This work, right through to the scientific experiments conducted on the ISS, is undertaken on behalf of all of us.
Our piece then stands in tribute to those people and attempts to capture, through projection mapping, the sheer scale of what ESA’s work means.

The International Space Station, 2010
NASA/Crew of STS-132, Wikimedia Commons

The second aim for us was to open up space exploration to the widest possible audience. All of our collaborators were as excited about this as we are and it formed a unified intention.
We made this piece intending for it connect with everybody who sees it using the best of current 3D animation techniques and projection technology. As an historical and cultural icon, the Blackpool Illuminations form the longest running free public light show on earth and they have given us the perfect opportunity for this project to go public.  

From "100 Years of Blackpool Entertainment"
by Ross Ashton (The Projection Studio) and Karen Monid
Blackpool Illuminations 2015 and 2016

Our third aim was to open up the creative process to our future generation of scientists and astronauts. We created an engagement program, devised and co-run with another of our project partners Dr Nick Lister.
Nick runs the Lawrence House Astronomy and Space Science Centre in Blackpool, the only facility of its kind in the UK, that teaches children about astronomy and space science. He does this with a huge passion for his work and subject, regularly sending teenagers to university where they study the subject to degree level and beyond. A unique and highly valuable UK national resource that should be more widely known about and used.
The engagement program we devised involved several schools in Blackpool to generate some of the artwork for the piece and I undertook audio recordings of the children to discover their views of space and their possible futures in it. The results, as you will hear and see, were very human and moving.

Here is the latest in the Press on the piece, with more to come so watch this space! :
From ESA
From Blackpool Council

I will write more detail in a post tomorrow about more specific aspects of the above, particularly the audio side of the project.

‘Chasing Stars’ forms part of the LightPool strand of the Blackpool Illuminations for 2016, and goes live on Friday 2nd Sept.