SOME/IMAGE : SCOTT KELLY'S YEAR IN SPACE
Omniscient, invasive, progressive, encapsulating – technology sweeps us into a haze of an advancing and peculiar experience. Scott Kelly's images from his one year in space mission from NASA reminds us of the impact and astounding advances that technology has made. The images reveal how the consequences of technological progression impede upon how we perceive and relate to the natural environment. The photographs that were taken during Kelly's time on the NASA space station gloriously capture our planet Earth. Each photograph presents to us the splendor of our Earth through the depiction of Earth's differing topographies and landscapes, as each terrain shifts between mesmerizing colors and textures.
The images present to us a differing perspective of our Earth, as they capture the oddities and vast array of its surfaces. It wouldn't appear far-fetched to view Kelly's work as a continuation of the landscape art tradition if not through a different means. Although, through looking at the photographs, there is an unsettled feeling that they aren't really pictures of our Earth. His Earth works provide a new perspective and frame our natural landscape as something that appears estranged. This extraterrestrial quality appears from the diversity of landscape and the richness of colors which is something we can't perceive in such grandiosity from our place on Earth. However, through our anchoring of the images to locations on Earth, the photographs seemingly lose this alien mysteriousness. Thus they appear rather as awe-inspiring depictions of our planet. But more than just being sublime and visually appealing landscape pieces, the images reveal how the possibility of viewing Earth from this perspective has only been made possible from the advancement of technology.
NASA had initiated the project as a means to discover the physical strain upon the human body in space that will be used as research for humans going to Mars. Kelly reflects on how the mission was not only physically strenuous, but also psychologically. He recites how a sense of isolation persisted during his mission, a loss of connection to those that remained on earth. This sense of isolation seeps into Kelly's images. There is this disquieting gap that manifests between the camera lens and earth, which intensifies as one peers further. The impending void isolates the viewer at a distance from the landscape, creating a sense of unease and estrangement. Suddenly, the use of presence and ability of technology to generate a sense of displacement becomes apparent.
It is through this estrangement and uncertain perspective that one must cultivate new techniques to relate to and perceive our natural environment. No longer is the Earth shown as our own acquainted environment, but a place that appears unknowable and peculiar. As the photographs render and capture the differing topographies and surfaces, the camera reinterprets and reflects back what we thought was familiar as unfamiliar. These strange surroundings raise the question: on how do we relate to our environment with the profound involvement of technology? Our desire to know the Earth in depth manifests through the advancement of technology. However, this can accumulate in a feeling of estrangement and isolation from our own natural environment and visually conceive it through an innovative perspective.