space An Artist In Nevada Plans To Launch A Satellite Into Orbit That Will Be Visible To The Naked Eye  

Michelle Nati
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Some art is really, well, out there. Artist Trevor Paglen is creating a space sculpture that's the very first of its kind called Orbital Reflector. The satellite will exist for the sole purpose of its artistic endeavor; its whole reason for being launched into space is simply to be seen from Earth.

Unlike other famous works, Orbital Reflector has the potential to be seen by every human being on the planet, making it a shared experience like no other. Sure, art is subjective, but who among us isn't objectively amazed when they see a shooting star, comet, or UFO pass by at night? Orbital Reflector may become one of the biggest success stories of 2018 — that is if the sculpture can arrive at its destination without a hitch.

As with any art project, there are many factors involved in Orbital Reflector's launch, both literally and figuratively. Orbital Reflector is no small feat, but it will be one giant, artistic leap for mankind.

Trevor Paglen Creates Art For The Entire World To See


American artist Trevor Paglen thinks big. He blurs the lines between art and science and tends to go places most artists wouldn't dare. As a graduate of MIT, he's well versed in the culture of data collection and surveillance, which are themes in many of his pieces.

In 2012, he created The Last Pictures in which he sent archival images into space, where they'll be broadcast for over 15 years before the television satellite goes into “graveyard orbit," where it'll circle the Earth forever, playing the images endlessly, until there is no more Earth to circle. It'll be the last offering of humankind to the universe.

The Nevada Museum of Art Is Helping Make Paglen's Idea A Reality


 

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Paglen described his plan to the Nevada Museum of Art, and it became clear that Paglen's mission matched theirs — both aim to create works that mix both art and science, and thus a collaboration was born.

"Nevada is seen as the last frontier. It’s a large land mass... There’s a history of experimentation, and there’s also a history of land art. Art is a part of our identity here, and it's playing an increasing role in our state. We want to get behind produced, commissioned artwork and grow that legacy," Nevada Museum of Art Executive Director David Walker said.

There Are 4,200 Man-Made Satellites Currently In Orbit


 

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About 1,300 active, man-made satellites orbit the Earth as you read this sentence. There are also about 2,900 that are no longer operational — we've been sending satellites to space since 1957, after all. All of them have had a specific reason for being there; they've all been used for scientific, military, and commercial purposes. However, none have ever been launched solely as an art piece to be seen from Earth. That's about to change.

'Orbital Reflector' Will Be The First Artistic Satellite In Space


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Orbital Reflector will be the first of its kind in the history of art and science. It's art for the sake of art on a totally new level. "I think that one of the most important things art can do is give you a reason to look at something, almost give you permission to look at something," Paglen says in an informative video the museum created about the project. "The Orbital Reflector project... is saying, 'Here, I'm going to give you a reason to look up at the sky and to think about what it is that you're looking at.'"