These aren’t three of the sixty-something moons of Saturn; instead, they are beautiful photographs of frying pans in a series called Devour by Norwegian photographer Christoper Jonassen. Like moons characterized by the “wear and tear” they encounter looping around in space, cookware is marked by its encounters with heating cycles and the occasional scour pad. Floating in dark space, each of these round, metallic landscapes is curious, as in “What has this poor pan been through?” On the other hand, what has poor Pandora been through? It looks more like a dusty potato than celestial orb.
But no potatoes here, anymore; no cheese, either. The only space trick they have left when they’re thrown away and, for a brief second, are flying saucers.
Bobby e-mailed me this space-age Smirnoff advertisement, complete with slick copy and a model whose crazy hair is the size of a satellite. And what’s not to like about such an image? It’s kitschy; it’s alcohol; it’s fun. But maybe not always fun. I started looking more into the history of astronauts/alcohol and came across the incident of Lisa Nowak, an astronaut who’s personal life eclipsed her professional carrer when, in 2007, she drove from Houston to Orlando to talk to the girlfriend of a fella astronaut she had a “more than professional” relationship with. What’s the big deal? She also brought the to the talk: gloves, a BB gun, pepper spray, a drilling hammer, and a folding knife along with rubber tubing, garbage bags, a large amount of cash and both a wig and tan trench coat to keep from looking suspicious. So nothing fishy there– oh, and she might have been wearing a diaper.
The confrontation did not go well for either lady involved: one was sprayed in the face with pepper spray and the other lost her job at NASA, the Navy and was convicted of a felony. The incident generated public interest in the mental health of astronauts (oddly enough, the confrontation occurred less than two weeks before Britney Spears shaved her head and generated interest in her own mental well-being.) NASA commissioned an internal report on the psychosocial health of astronauts that, among other things, found “ heavy use of alcohol by astronauts in the immediate preflight period.” NASA launched another investigation to look into statements made in the first report, specifically about the alcohol use, but could not find evidence supporting such statements (both reports here). One critic of the first report was astronaut Scott Kelly, whose twin brother Mark, also an astronaut… that’s right identical twin astronauts, is married to Gabrielle Giffords, another person whose life has sparked public interest in mental health awareness.
I was amused to see this space suit in my inbox. After weeks of grim and dreary space suits, I thought it was time to have a laugh and a drink, but it turns out that even this space suit lends itself to a sobering tale. At least for now, this astronaut has her cumulonimbus hair and a small constellation of drinks within her reach.
I hate to do it two weeks in a row, but this is another dark and murky portrayal of astronauts. Saddened by the end of the shuttle program, the astronauts in this series of photographs by Neil Dacosta have decided to explore options to end their lives. As photographs, these are well-done, but their subject matter can be difficult for some. In fact, the more I look at them, the darker and sadder the series appears, not because I believe the end of the shuttle missions are this dire, but because the sense of isolation in this series is convincing. In the middle of the day, these anonymous explorers are alone. Even when they venture out into the city, nobody is there. Without turning this into a Public Service Announcement, there really is no way to comprehend the loneliness that launches folks down these dead-end paths. It seems a little too much like an amusement, but considering how many of you have sent this series my way (and that I may be taking the photos too seriously) here they are for you to see. Thanks to Tim Ragan, and many others for the heads up.
This “Dead Astronaut” is a sculpture by Brandon Vickard, and I can’t quite figure out what is going on with this sculpture. As if astronauts didn’t have enough to worry about (sudden loss of pressure, micrometorites, cosmic radiation, etc.) one astronaut has to worry about termites. Even though this dead astronaut is made out of dead wood, the sculpture has a life of its own. Living in gallery space, this would-be explorer begs questions. These questions may vary from the questions inspired by living astronauts; mostly about the ideas that launched the sculpture. Surely a poplar Apollo suit complete with a skull is grounded in something.
We can look at the expression of the dead astronaut, our observations branching out into new questions rooted in the expression of the skull. Usually the face is hiding behind a reflective visor that protects retinas from UV light, our astronaut may not be worried about UV rays… Because um… he’s not real. However, as long as we wonder what his purpose is and what territory he is exploring, he really isn’t dead at all.
First and foremost, all of the images this week are from the same big, huge, excellent flickr photo set Man in Space. The set is a trove, with so many images that I had to get really specific when trying to decide what images to post, eventually pulling only images that diagram how astronauts fit inside various spacecraft. Above are excellent cutaway examples of these diagrams and bellow is a gallery that includes others. The scale of some of the vehicles that launched us into orbit, like the Saturn V rocket, is hard to comprehend, but maybe it makes it a little easier to see scale figures in these drawings. Lucky for us, most of the scale figures are wearing space suits.