Ad/Graph Thesis – Proposal and Concepts

It's been a hectic last week. Directions is finished, the One Show entries have been sent out, and my illness has subsided. Now I'm shifting gears back to my thesis!

Last week, I explained that I'd have my proposal together. It's a rather lengthy document, so I'll sum up of the basics here:

The Concept
My concept poses the question, "If you could send anything into the depths of space, what would it be and why?" The responses, which could be messages, photos, drawings, videos, sounds, textures, smells, or small objects, will help determine what we value as a species. Are we generally humorous, or serious? Are we interested in the material, or the intangible? These are the kinds of questions I plan to answer through the feedback of others, and I hope for the show's visitors to ask the same questions.

The Research
Most of my research has been on the Voyager Golden Records, the Pioneer plaques, Earth Tapestry, and time capsules. Most of these topics have been mentioned in past blog posts, so I'll avoid repeating myself. In short, my research is what prompted me to expand my horizons as to what outlets/media/senses I can use. I'm also interested in keeping text to a minimum, instead using universal symbols like pictorial illustrations to get my ideas across; again, when reaching out into space, we can't rely solely on English and other languages.

Here's the Pioneer Plaque, illustrated by Carl Sagan's then-wife. Photo Credit: The Curious Astronomer.

Here's the Pioneer Plaque, illustrated by Carl Sagan's then-wife. Photo Credit: The Curious Astronomer.

The Execution
I envision a large exhibition that encourages visitors to navigate around it and experience sounds, textures, images, and smells, all in an attempt to describe what it means to be human. The exhibition could also be hollow on the inside to allow for visitors to enter and provide their own contributions. In a perfect scenario, the piece would look like a probe, but we'll see what happens. Here's my sketch:

Here's a quick sketch of what I first envisioned. Naturally, it's subject to change.

Here's a quick sketch of what I first envisioned. Naturally, it's subject to change.

The Logistical Challenges
Logistically, the biggest challenges are finding my mentor (although I have a couple of leads I've contacted) and some assistance in the executional phase of this project. I have a few ideas, however, and I plan to reach out to them soon.

The Technology Hurdles
Depending on how I choose to approach this, I might need to incorporate a certain level of programming or coding into this project, possibly through MaKey MaKey or Arduino (and I'm not too familiar with the latter). There's also the challenge of figuring out how to represent some of the more unusual sensory outputs, like smell, taste, and touch. I imagine there are some pretty low-tech solutions, like having blades of grass, crumbly cookies, or scented candles in closed containers.

Here's an Arduino board, just in case something like a MaKey MaKey kit doesn't work. Photo Credit: selfbuilt.net

Here's an Arduino board, just in case something like a MaKey MaKey kit doesn't work. Photo Credit: selfbuilt.net

Things like textures could be kind of low-tech. Photo Credit: Linens 'n Things.

Things like textures could be kind of low-tech. Photo Credit: Linens 'n Things.

I also visited COSI for the first time recently. This particular exhibit allows you to safely feel an electric current. There might be some value in this.

I also visited COSI for the first time recently. This particular exhibit allows you to safely feel an electric current. There might be some value in this.

Looking ahead, I'd love to continue searching for ideas for things to include, possibly in the form of video interviews. I'm also looking to have some conversations with a few experts in the field to help validate my concept or learn about some techniques that I haven't considered. In short, there's a lot to do, but I'm still incredibly excited with where this could go.

Ad/Graph Thesis – Reaching Out

Last week, I shared what my big idea was. Almost everyone I've talked with seems to enjoy the idea, and I've continued to dive into the topic.

I recently set up a survey that gauges people's stances on space in general and poses the big question: What would you send into space and why? The survey can be taken here, and I've already received some very interesting answers. Here a few of my favorites:

  • "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire, because I believe it to be the happiest song ever recorded."
     
  • "If I could send out a camera that would never lose its charge and record whatever it finds and transmits it back, that'd be cool. Or a Nickelback CD so we're sure alien life never visits us."
     
  • "A bottle of wine, because we all know it gets better with age. By the time it reaches anything able to consume it, that will be one expensive bottle."
     
  • "A seed of any sort, with directions on what it needs to grow and survive. If something was out there that was able to understand how to make the seed grow then we would more likely than not start a new species of plant somewhere and change everything about that somewhere."
     
  • "A box set of The X-Files... Milder deserves to know the truth. Or Liam Payne of One Direction, because he's my least favorite."

"September" by Earth, Wind & Fire.
© 2012 Sony Music Entertainment.

A box set of  The X-Files . Photo Credit: Amazon.

A box set of The X-Files. Photo Credit: Amazon.

Photo Credit: Wine Tours of the World.

Photo Credit: Wine Tours of the World.

Photo Credit: AllThingsD.

Photo Credit: AllThingsD.

I also stumbled across Earth Tapestry, which is a nonprofit that uses the internet to democratically determine the cultural significance of different landmarks and locations. They also have plans to preserve this information on the Moon in the form of a laser-engraved sapphire disk. This particular project is being coordinated in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University. Best of all, William Alba, the founder and director of the project has an email listed, so I recently reached out to him. If all goes well, he could a great resource for this project.

The Metasphere Chamber that will securely house the Earth Tapestry data on the moon. Photo Credit: Earth Tapestry

The Metasphere Chamber that will securely house the Earth Tapestry data on the moon.
Photo Credit: Earth Tapestry

I was also recommended this article, which does an excellent job weighing the pros and cons of actively sending messages into space.

By my next blog post, I'll have submitted my official thesis proposal, and hopefully hear back from a few professionals in their respective fields.

This month has been particular busy, considering I've had to juggle my thesis, a One Show entry, a pretty ambitious music video, Directions, and a few other miscellaneous things. When this current week wraps up, I'll have a lot more time to dedicate to this!