Celestial Mechanics

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It is a busy sky, indeed. Celestial Mechanics is a artwork created by Scott Hessels and Gabriel Dunne in 2005. It presents something much closer to home than one might think. Its purpose is to show what is right above us in the skies in the forms of low orbiting satellite pathways. Every satellite, as well as weather balloons, broadcast signals and data to computers all over the world. Hessels and Dunne have compiled all of that data to create a piece of art. Celestial Mechanics was constructed to be shown in planetariums because the dome shaped auditoriums allowed viewers to become more involved in the experience than with a flat two dimensional screen. Rather than the presentations typically seen in planetariums of stars, galaxies and distant worlds, viewer are able to see the satellites fly by that give signals to their every day objects such as their TV news or cellular phones. “In order to generate the image, the data was parsed into MEL, a scripting language used by 3D animation program Maya, which was then rendered into animation frames.” [1] With this generation of the image, the viewer is then able to follow a multitude of paths the satellites have been on, allowing one to visualize the complicated obstacle-filled space that is the skies above. Aaron Koblin’s Flight Patterns is a similar piece to Celestial Mechanics, actually being “the result of experiments leading to the project, Celestial Mechanics.”[2]

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However, Flight Patterns focuses only on aircraft flights in, out, and across the United States, using differences in colors to represent altitudes, models, and manufacturers. 

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Although Celestial Mechanics was striking to the eye, exactly what it was depicting could be unknown and confusing upon first glance.  After learning what all the lines and dots represented, it was astonishing to realize the amount of objects that are orbiting Earth. The many pathways strung around the planet, yet none of them every colliding. This artwork shows how complicated the seemingly empty sky is at any given time, with never a moment of rest. This work also shows how technologies such as aircraft and satellites have helped connect the world, closing the distances between continents with tangled, yet intricate webs of lines. We have become dependent on these technologies, but are rarely able to see their full affect and coverage. Hessels and Dunne’s graceful representation of the monotonous data collected from these flight paths was all made possible through computer visual programs. Thus, computers have opened the doors to these new forms of art, as stated in Shanken’s Art and Electronic Media, “Artists also used computers in order to create images that could not have been imagined or produced using traditional media”[3] and that "a computer-guided multi-media programmes synchronizing the development in time of corresponding elements of graphics, melody, colour, rhythm, light
intensity, motion and projection strikes the speaker as an art form that might claim to have utilized the potential of modern computer technology almost to the full."[4]

References:

[1] http://www.cmlab.com/index.php

[2] http://users.design.ucla.edu/~akoblin/work/faa/

[3] Edward Shanken, Art and Electronic Media (New York: Phaidon Press Limited, 2009), 26

[4] Edward Shanken, Art and Electronic Media (New York: Phaidon Press Limited, 2009), 205

Other References:

http://rhizome.org/artbase/artwork/40291/

http://www.aaronkoblin.com/work/flightpatterns/title.jpg

“Celestial Mechanics” hakkında 1 yorum

  1. Very good entry, I really
    Very good entry, I really like this piece and your analysis of it. I was definitely expecting to see that it was about constellations so it was great that you did a thorough job describing what it actually was. Also, thanks for defining MEL, it was definitely helpful in understanding your entry and the piece. I think you did a great job hitting all the bases in terms of referencing other works, including relevant quotes and providing links. The only suggestions I might have would be to link the artist’s name to their website homepage the first time you mention them, just in case people want to see more by that artist. Also, your last sentence, with the quote, really opens up for further analysis I think. You could definitely get into the question of the legitimacy of digital/coded art and whether or not it really should be considered art or whether it’s just data-crunching. Anyway, just some suggestions. Great work!

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