Escape Velocity by Patrick Shearn and Poetic Kinetics

The immense moving astronaut sculpture certain to become the central visual touchstone of Coachella 2014 featured three different video systems: a reflection cam pointing downward, seeing what the astronaut sees; a camera that, during randomly chosen intervals at the fest (and also at Instagram hashtag #missionpk14), puts your face into the astronaut’s helmet; and one displaying prerecorded video images. The first two create an opportunity for selfies on the grandest of scales, but the last is what gives the work its deeper meaning

The work juxtaposes images of the planet in both its most beautiful and its most polluted states. Shearn says that the astronaut is a traveler from the future, and both states reflect alternate possibilities for the world he may have seen.

The fully kinetic sculpture, whose arms, wrists, and shoulders are radio controlled, has a high degree of interactivity that Shearn hopes will expand its life beyond the boundaries of Coachella, and the artist says he has already fielded a number of inquiries from educational museums that have expressed an interest in giving it a home. But Shearn is currently in search of a benefactor who can help move the astronaut from the polo fields to the kids he ultimately hopes it can be used to instruct.

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NBC News
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