Amplifier for Art, Science and Society

Images: Julien Gremaud.



OrbitsTriptychon is a live audiovisual experiment whose aesthetic emulates the poetic dance of about 25,000 manufactured objects in orbit around the Earth, most of which are space trash, except for about 3000 satellites. The objects’ movements are visualized based on Quadrature’s calculation of their trajectories in space and in-depth research into global satellite data. The artists’ first source of information was a US Air Force website. Yet, compared with unofficial databases, a number of classified objects such as military or surveillance satellites were missing. Fortunately, data on classified satellites is generated by enthusiastic amateur astronomers observing the night skies.

Merging these two sources, the work harmonizes artistic autonomy and scientific rigour. In this work, Quadrature transforms their original 2017 live performance Orbits into an experimental installation. Referring to the art historical use of the triptych, the work is a trilogy of, one, the data of the continuous orbit of objects around Earth, two, the live re-enactment of this event, and three, its subsequent restaging in an art installation. Its minimalist visualization follows the orbits of these satellites to reveal a hidden layer of human infrastructure. Seemingly chaotic paths mutate to form surprising patterns of an almost organic nature. Everything is ordered according to the physical necessities of orbital mechanics: each satellite is propelled by its own velocity; none lingers. In a play on the aesthetics of space (zooming in and out) and time (speeding up and slowing down), the artists expose the disproportionate space that these objects occupy.