Upgrade Available (Paperback)
Dancing Foxes Press, 9781733688925, 144pp.
Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Technological evolution and obsolescence on board a spaceship bound for Proxima b, in a new project by artist Julia Christensen
This volume documents an ongoing investigation by artist Julia Christensen (born 1976) into how our relentless "upgrade culture"--the perceived notion that we need to constantly upgrade our electronics to remain relevant--fundamentally impacts our experience of time. In a personal narrative interspersed with related interdisciplinary artwork and conversations with experts from different fields (other artists, archivists, academics), Christensen takes readers along a path from the international "e-waste" industry to institutional archives, eventually leading her to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).At JPL, Christensen began a dialog with a group of exo-planetary scientists, engineers and machine learning experts to develop long-lived space mission concepts that include an update of the Voyager spacecrafts' 1977 "Golden Record," to be embedded on a hypothetical future interstellar spacecraft. She and the scientists are designing an artwork generated by an extraterrestrial system that tells a distinctly new story of life on Earth. In taking on this challenge, Christensen--a female pioneer redefining the intersection of art, technology, and outer space--must envision an artwork for an evolving, autonomously-upgrading spaceship headed toward a potentially habitable planet in another star system. Her years-long investigation into upgrade culture leads to design concepts that potentially transcend technological obsolescence altogether.