Last Contact

Last Contact, 3:26, 2017

Humanity’s fascination with Mars is lengthy and pervasive – fantastical stories and interstellar dreams feed the industry of space exploration, making science fiction become science fact, and the boundary between human and machine ever more entwined.

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We have never been to Mars yet have sent numerous robotic extensions to survey the planet and report back. Of the few that have successfully made the journey, most have simply stopped transmitting signals at some point, and all that is known of their potential demise is their last geographic location, referred to as ‘Last Contact’. Hypothetically, rather than destroyed or dead, they still could be active on the surface of mars, existing in a state of unobserved life or death (if such a term can be applicable to robotic entities).

It is impossible to speak of machines without speaking of humans, with whom they are inextricably entangled. The quality of information generated and transmitted by the machine creates the reality that we understand, particularly in such a scenario where robots are acting beyond human perception and influence and agency is placed within them in lieu of the human body. Just as science-fiction often begets science-fact, perhaps human understanding is bound to the informatics of the machine. Perhaps robotic entities are the true human colonizers of Mars, and maybe the transmitted information and images is the ultimate experience through our mechanically entangled interstellar extensions. Perhaps in a way, we’ve all already been to Mars.

All footage & audio is found and digitally constructed:
Panorama from Mar’s Curiosity Rover
Audio ‘Vocalize’ from ‘First Theremin Concert for Extraterrestials’ by Alexander Zaitsev,    performed by L. Kevina & A. Kerchenko, transmitted into space 2001
Audio from NASA’s Mar’s Exploration Rover Opportunity
Animation from JPL NASA: Pathfinder & Sojouner Mission
Excerpts from ‘Total Recall’ (1990)
Audio excerpt from Orson Welles ‘War of the Worlds’ Radio Broadcast (1938)
Images of ‘Last Contact’ ‘artificial objects currently on Mars

Screenings

2017 Filmideo, Index Art Center, New Jersey, USA

2017 Dawson City International Short Film Festival, Dawson City, Canada