Adrift - The Art Project That Lets You Tweet at Space Junk
How many pieces of space junk do you reckon are floating around orbiting our planet? Take a wild guess. In fact, the answer is in excess of 200 million. In less than a century, we've managed to turn the nearest region of space to our home planet into a cluttered mess of discarded space equipment, dead satellites and other such things.
Sometimes it's a necessary evil, jettisoning something is far easier than bringing it back to Earth, especially if it'll only get thrown away once it gets back down here, but in any case, it's slightly upsetting that even out in space, humans are still hopeless litterbugs.
A big part of art is taking things which would otherwise serve little to no purpose, and imbuing them with significance. In the case of Adrift, the things are 27,000 pieces of said space junk, and the means of imbuing is Twitter. Through their service, you can directly tweet at any one of the pieces, and it'll tweet back, letting you know where it is, how long it's been out there, why it's out there, and even how it's feeling.
If you want to know how I am up here, which'd be nice, @ me a message and I'll give you a status update #livefromspace. Unfollow to stop.— FengyunAdrift (@FengyunAdrift) November 16, 2016
In sum, then, Adrift allows you to a adopt a hunk of space debris, anything from an old Russian space suit to a monitoring satellite which is actually the oldest human artefact in space. It's an interesting idea, adopting a piece of floating space-waste, but the tweets are just the surface tension, there's more going on beneath.
See, the device which actually tracks the space junk also converts the electric signals given off by each individual piece into sound. The sounds themselves are reminiscent of the scores from films like Alien and Silent Running. Eerie drones and hums, an all too fitting serenade for broken and beaten metal skeletons set floating endlessly above our heads.
@junior7 Goodbye, spare me the occasional thought? I'll be up here for the next 240 years..— VanguardAdrift (@VanguardAdrift) November 26, 2016
Space junk is also, of course, very dangerous. If it collects into larger clusters, the speed at which it orbits the planet mean that these clusters form devastating waves of destruction. What happened in Gravity? That's an all-too-real risk for astronauts.
Adrift will be hosting an exhibition in London early next year, which will likely include many of the tweeted dialogues between curious users and the talkative, enlivened space ghosts. In the mean time, you can check out the project, and adopt a metal baby of your own here.
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum
Adrift - The Art Project That Lets You Tweet at Space Junk Reviewed by Callum Davies on Monday, November 28, 2016 Rating: