The Voyager images II

…on second thoughts, there’s no need to play some kind of clever metafictional game to get to the idea of the Voyager images as a kind of weird conceptual artwork.

Of course it’s an artwork. On Mundane SF principles, the chances of the ostensible audience, “aliens”, ever finding it and understanding it, is negligible; even if this were to happen, the chances of us finding out that it did are still more remote.

So: we are the only audience. Sending the golden record into space was a ritual act, a piece of science fiction performance, especially the laborious initial sequence of images which is intended to teach the hypothetical alien recipients a basic grammar of physical and mathematical concepts. Ostensibly, it’s us telling the aliens “we are here”: really, it’s us telling ourselves “we are here, and here is how we want them to see us”.

Is it legit to impute artistic motives to a project like this? It feels like the complement, or the inverse, of “outsider art” – taking an activity which may mean something quite different to its creator and framing it as art.

In what sense was the space program an artwork? What about the pyramids?


2 responses to “The Voyager images II

  1. The point isn’t really on what terms you are permitted to judge a thing by some imaginary authoritative readership, but how much juice you can squeeze from the chosen terms of judgement.

    In my opinion although all of the above can be evaluated in artistic terms, there are other types of analysis (logistic? past-political? present-political?) that might be more interesting.

  2. Pingback: The Voyager Images III « Nannygoat Hill

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