Back in 2007, NASA TV released a video series called “Beyond the Light” to educate the public on the work of Chandra, its space-based telescope that used X-ray light to, as the narrator dramatically put it, “explore the most menacing and magnificent features of the cosmos and reveal what our eyes can’t.”
Fifteen years on, NASA has a new multi-billion-dollar piece of kit orbiting earth, the James Webb Space Telescope, and its media output has been given a considerable upgrade. It’s unveiled a psychedelic new experience, courtesy of a collaboration with Artechouse, the multi-location immersive exhibition pioneer that boasts best-in-class projection technology.
Debuting in the converted confines of Chelsea Market’s century-old boiler room, “Beyond the Light,” which runs through August 31, is the product of extensive collaboration between Artechouse’s audio-visual technicians and a range of NASA experts, including astrophysicists and those from its own visualization studio.
“We believe art, science, and technology can come together to offer a fascinating experience,” Sandro Kereselidze, Artechouse’s chief creative officer, said in a statement. “This exhibition takes science and data that already exists and brings it to life artistically in a way that’s never been done before.”
The star may be the dazzling galatical data captured by NASA’s newest telescope, much of which is presented in a 25-minute-long video (or as Artechouse calls it, “a cinematic journey through a captivating audio-visual interpretation of how we have experienced light over time”). But the exhibition also takes an artistic approach to multiple aspects of the 65-year-old U.S. agency’s cosmic activities.
This includes the cycles of the moon and mankind’s folkloric obsession with our nearest neighbor. There’s an exploration of how today’s technology-reliant world would be impacted by a major solar storm, or the Carrington Event as it is known by scientists in reference to the 1859 solar flare. Short answer: the electrical infrastructure collapses and people suffer.
Also of interest is an inquiry into the minds of the five Mars Rovers by generative artist Gene Kogan. During their missions, the planetary exploration devices were put to sleep so as to conserve battery. Kogan imagines what the machines might have dreamt of—a project with echoes of Refik Anadol’s .
Artechouse has emerged strongly out of the pandemic launching a series of mega-sensory spectacles that have drawn crowds and considerable revenue (an adult ticket to “Beyond the Light” is $25). It has fallen prey in some corners of being an expensive place to snap social media photos (its most recent show, “Magentaverse,” explores the Pantone color of the year). Despite the detractors, its latest show is very colorful and looks cool.
See more images from “Beyond the Light” below.