55 Cancri e

Curatorial text by Lupe Álvarez

The world of global information capitalism daily confronts us with extraordinary events, whose evidences vertiginously move across electronic superhighways. Myriads of images extracted from diverse sources, with heterogeneous qualities and varied formats, invade our space, inevitably set with screens and immersed in its luminous surfaces. We are already with them, and our ways of seeing the world, our affections and representations inhabit their languages.

Is it true what his flashes offer? Are your narratives reliable? How much of what we perceive today is arbitrated by how electronic devices, their information flows, and what we seek (and download) from the web, shape our beliefs and transform the complex sphere of our corporality?

The 55 Cancri e project seems to support this desire to interrogate forms of creation attached to “compressed and flexible data packets” ready to be transferred and integrated into countless procedures and combinations. An ethic of remix and appropriation, as Hito Steyerl calls it, opens the fingerboard to creativity without jurisdiction.

The interfaces open possibilities where a gigantic repository of information of all kinds, seems to affirm the idea of a world in which everything is available and “at a glance”, not only to modify our ways of seeing and appreciating but also to reveal us a horizon of uses where, thanks to the access of a connected majority, authorship is radically transformed. The creative subject relaxes their gifts, making the differences between an artist, a web designer, a graphic designer, or an expert network analyst more blurred.

It is in the distribution of the web where creation, interactivity participation confuse their operations ranges. Translation, editing, critical and parodic editing and other appropriation and transfer maneuvers appear as distinctive modes in artistic practices that are aimed at illuminating “the affective condition of the contemporary crowd”.

These are processes have modified perceptual patterns, making us more sensitive to images surfaces and effects than to the content they embody.

We are faced with a type of architecture where dissimilar forms of contiguity are incubated, of fragmented apprehension of the world: a spatiality linked to the configurations and formats of the devices, which fosters a different commitment with viewers and users constantly exposed to mutable connections. Engaging, displacement and hierarchies activated in their own experience with the environment.

Mónica López has always been interested in the images that abound in browsers and generally, those produced technologically. Her flatness and meager materiality – aspects that she sometimes emulates in drawing – have occupied her creative endeavors: as if the hand wanted to fight the technical neatness born of the device. But her intentions have been heeled toward questioning the dominant display archetypes distributed by internet platforms. Her proposal is aware of the deceptive nature of the images behind its glittering presence, which, as Juan Martín Prada affirms, refers us back to that “mythical historical association between sources of light and sources of authority.”

She has been feeding her interest in the exploration of those porous edges that exist between languages of sciences whose discursive structure has, per se, real effects and the exploitation of their authorized rhetorics by a juicy market that swings between the apparent seriousness of her statements, the novelty of a society eager for spectacles and an economic sector that proliferates from the pseudo-scientific speculation that abounds on the web.

The possible existence of a planet made entirely of diamond and all the maneuvering that orbits its scientific treatment and its media image stand as the leitmotif of the sample. Its nodes are the images, the devices, the discourse and the corporalities that lie in a field of promiscuous relationships between science, advertising, transnational economic and strategic institutions and interests. And here resonates that suggestive idea of Fredric Jameson when he recognized that in an “era of textualized surfaces and decentralized consciousness ”, the reconstruction of a political unconscious (that latent narration), would only be viable in the figure of allegory, glimpsed through associations and fragmentary texts as approximate and partial articulation.

Lupe Álvarez

The following project consists of research on a planet whose characteristics place it between science and fable: The extrasolar planet 55 Cancri orbits around a star similar to the Sun and is located forty light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cancer. Due to its high carbon composition, it is speculated that it is made entirely of diamond.

With a place like an extrasolar planet our relationship can only be abstract, this project raises a question about how a phenomenon is perceived from the universe of signs that exist a priori, and I intend to reconstruct my relationship with the planet through all the imaginary and intermediate mediations, showing fragments of “reality” from the juxtaposition of science and fiction. 55 Cancri e is a poetic expedition that uses the discovery of a planet as a pretext to present a narrative about the proximity and expansion between science and propaganda, image and language, desires and consumption, and reveals the relationships between industry, economic interests, advertising and entertainment in the production of images. And it is that the fiction and the fantastic of 55 e Cancri feeds on the illusion that is already in the mind of the general public: that diamonds are rare and valuable stones.

Mónica López

This piece is located between the rhetoric of science and the conversion of its protocols into a market that oscillates between the apparent seriousness of its statements, the novelty of a society eager for spectacles, and an economic sector that proliferates from pseudo-scientific speculation that abounds on the web.

The United Nations outer space treaty created in 1967 has a legal loophole, it prohibits nations from appropriating extraterrestrial lands but does not mention corporations or individuals. Taking this into consideration, this piece consists of executing the legal process that results in a notarized Declaration of Intent document, which grants me a territory in the extrasolar planet 55 Cancri e. Therefore I take possession of a 2701 m2 and 2 kilometers deep land, around the coordinates 51 degrees north and 27 degrees east, with all its minerals included.

As if it were a metapicture, this piece is an image that reflects about images and their modes of circulation. With an extrasolar planet, our relationship can only be abstract, in an area of scarce knowledge the visual and corporeal experience is given only through the access of information provided by technical devices.

55 Cancri e becomes a pretext to generate relationships between different visualities where there was initially none.
It is impossible to see the planet as a whole, we can only see an invasion of heterogeneous images that take place on the repertoires that propose ideas about space and that visually support the construction of the value of a planet and diamonds.

“The twilight of the dean” 
Video lecture performance. Powerpoint presentaction
Performer: Christian Guerrero 
25 min
2 0 1 9
National geographic, space.com, nasa.com, research gate, exocast.com, abc.es, nasa.gov, astronoo.com, astronomy.com, forbes.com, scitechdailt, europlanetsociety.org, exoplanet.com,  skyondtelescope, universe today, astronomyhudson.org, phys.com, Victoria´s secret, Architectureexposed.com 

“The twilight of the dean” is shown as a conference about a great discovery, the script consists of the compilation of fragments of texts taken from scientific magazines and websites that contain articles on the planet 55 Cancri e. I thus obtain a compilation of paragraphs made by numerous authors, which will be ordered and condensed into one single piece of writing that results in a sort of ironic literature that prowls the conceptions that conceive science between rigor and fiction, with political/philosophical substrates of the contemporary world such the overall faith in technology to overcome human limitations, the added cultural upon matter and the made-up mechanisms that legitimize and grant value.

The narrative in this performative lecture will be the common thread that connects disparate images that illustrate a fictional account that exemplifies rhetorics that range from the seriousness of the strictly scientific to naive cliches of representation and consumption. Using a visual vocabulary inherited from keynote speeches and motivational speeches and with an attitude that ranges from seriousness, humor, arrogance, anxiety and disappointment, the performer is presenting a series of scientific, historical, economic facts and questions philosophical of existentialist and linguistic tradition.

This work consists of a series of drawings whose referential images will be taken from archives of coronagraph records, a device that, adapting to a telescope, is capable of blocking the light of a star and thus revealing the surrounding planets. In the beginning, this instrument was used to study the solar corona, and later to search for exoplanets since it allows direct visualization.

In its manufacture the drawings are different from the nature of its referential image, they are made entirely of graphite on paper. There is no evidence of an artisanal elaboration, but rather I seek to generate a technological invoice, smooth and perfect.

This exercise is about emulating an artificiality. The stylistic problem lies in the following: the naturalistic form is intended to be a faithful representation of the model, but the images produced by the coronagraph do not reveal reality at all. The image fails in an attempt to show the real. The most technical and precise paradoxically makes it less objective, endows it with imprecise meanings that result in a loss of equivalence with respect to its original model. Drawings result in a kind of hyperrealism of images that are themselves a type of abstraction.

This piece is between art and pure science when it comes to carrying out a chemical experiment that consists of burning the diamond in a chamber with liquid oxygen and then collecting the carbon dioxide that is released.

The disappearance of an object that symbolizes perpetuity, in addition to being one of the most coveted objects on the market, is the opposite of what was expected in the processes of transformation of matter for industrial manufacturing. The state of the material changes to become something imperceptible, it is freed from its economic value and emphasizes its symbolic condition.

This piece triggers reflections on how appearance affects its appreciation and the language we use to designate the same material in different states. Why is one more valuable than the other? From a molecular point of view, the air is considered nothing, but CO2 is a vital noble gas.

Continuing with the verisimilitude game present in the works of this exhibition, the field diary is an instrument used to record those events that are likely to be interpreted, such as the investigation and expedition plans to a planet of diamonds. These studies will demonstrate the planning for an expedition to a remote and dangerous site and will include the information that has been gathered, the location of the planet, project designs, formulas, drawings, annotations of the investigation that evidence the processes that have led me to the ideas of the present project and questions that you do not necessarily want to answer. This blog does not aim to obtain correct answers but will be a tool to think about the possibilities that such an expedition could allow and require.