This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. –Jimmy Carter, US President 1977
Yesterday, I landed in Phoenix and immediately headed over to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
The exhibition This is a Present from a Small Distant World is absolutely enchanting. The artist group known as New Catalogue collaborated with composer Judd Greenstein of New Amsterdam Records to create this environmental experience. They are all really interested in the idea of The Golden Record. The Golden Record was put together over a span of 6 weeks in 1977 and involved the best minds and scientists in the world. It was designed to be a sort of guidebook or time capsule for extra-terrestial life. It includes greetings in over 55 languages, diagrams of anatomy, animals, descriptions of our land forms, music and even a brain wave of what it is like to be in love. The Golden Record was sent into space on the Voyager 1, and is currently over 11 billions km away from the sun.
The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic ‘ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.– Carl Sagan, the leading director on the project.
The idea of the Golden Record inspired the collaborators in this exhibition to think about how life has changed since 1977 and think about what we in 2012, would put on our Golden Record. They built this amazing structure that reminds me of a secret tree house. On the outside it is all business and rather static, filled with messages in a NASA inspired font that were originally on The Golden Record. When you turn the corner and enter the hallway, you are greeted with a collage of interaction and visual pleasure. There are TVs streaming images of things people would miss on Earth, (my favorite was the Chicken Channel), cubes of key words in our society, photographs, music composed by Judd Greenstein, and newspaper sheets that posed questions for you, the patron, to answer. This was my favorite part, not only were the questions interesting and ranging from serious to ridiculous.. the answers were perfect and consisted of all types of people, from the brilliant simplicity of young minds to cynical adults. I literally spent an hour in there reading and choosing my own answers for the ones I could reach.
In teaching others, we teach ourselves –Claire Carter, SMoCA Curator
This is a must-see exhibition and as always, SMoCA continues to push boundaries and curate engaging, futuristic experiences.