The small town of Vitanje has been implemented with the building and institution of KSEVT (Cultural Centre of European Space Technologies) in 2012. KSEVT has changed the life of Vitanje quite radically and placed Vitanje on the global map... But, until today, the digital imagery of Google Maps satellite photo database has not been updated and still shows the old local community building that was standing on the place of KSEVT. We took this opportunity to run a project of producing the updated orthophoto image of the area of Vitanje with KSEVT.
It wasn't just about showing updated reality of the place we were working in. It was also about understanding that the world and outer space is watching and having the opportunity to communicate.
Sending a message meant to create one single snapshot. What are the techniques needed for doing that? Scale was certainly an important issue together with the simplicity of means of communication. We have referenced examples of land art from primitive cultures to contemporary sophisticated endeavours.
Documenting the action – taking the snapshot – was engineered via various technical possibilities including on-demand satellite image, ultra-light airplane and regular photo-drone. All of those devices were organised to be at the exact specific time above exact specific place ready to take that exact image – the message to outer space.
Sending out one single message from Vitanje, what should it be? KSEVT was created to tribute the work of Noordung. His book The Problem of Space Travel is referenced by many space technology scientists, but has a strong impact in culture as well: Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clarke have used Noordung's design for a space station as the main set of 2001: A Space Odyssey movie. And Clarke alone gave us and Vitanje the only possible answer for a contextual message, referring to yet another icon of space culture: Douglas Adams with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Creating the awareness about the project of sending the message to outer space was equally important for the people from Vitanje as it was for the people within the territory of Slovenia.
On the 15th of July 2015 the collective gathering of people, coordinated in a carefully engineered action, started to form the phrase “DON'T PANIC” on the sloped grass fields in Vitanje. We have used the bio degradable foil farmers use for wrapping and storing the hay.
At 16:00 the makers of the message sat down on the grass and were ready to face the moment of the snapshot. Looking up to the sky...
... we saw the airplane flying over Vitanje carrying the photographer taking images of the land art installation – the message – Vitanje's space call. Simultaneously the drone was repeatedly scanning the landscape, bit by bit, to compose the ortophotograph of the contemporary reality of Vitanje.
The Snapshot Addressing both, the pop culture, as well as the current global and local uncertainties of the status quo, we have sent the message. It contextualises KSEVT as an institution in Vitanje as well as it speaks about the uncertain future of KSEVT in the times when the state administration and the directorship of KSEVT speak conflicting languages. At the same time, it is a message to the world, that everyone can understand and relate to.
Google Maps database The drone has captured the hi resolution orthophoto imagery, which is pending to be uploaded to Google Maps database and to become a permanent part of the world wide web, speaking to the global society and to whomever of whatever is observing us from outer space.
The feedback from society Carefully inspecting the ortophoto imagery, with a pleasant surprise, we have discovered an echo from society. A group of local kids understood the magnitude of the project and took the chance to send their own space call: simply by writing down, on their private lawn, the most important individual information at that age - their own names.