Humanity Star

Rocket Labs, a spaceflight startup based in Los Angeles, secretly stowed away a “disco ball” satellite that has no other purpose than, “to encourage everyone to look up and consider our place in the universe.”

The satellite is a “geodesic sphere made from carbon fibre with 65 highly reflective panels. It spins rapidly, reflecting the sun’s rays back to Earth, creating a flashing light that can be seen against a backdrop of stars.” The company has put up the Humanity Star website where you can track the satellite’s progress across the sky and plan the best time to see it. The satellite will orbit the earth every 90 minutes for the next nine months until it falls out of orbit and burns up in the atmosphere.

Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck shared the following statement.

For millennia, humans have focused on their terrestrial lives and issues. Seldom do we as a species stop, look to the stars and realize our position in the universe as an achingly tiny speck of dust in the grandness of it all.

Humanity is finite, and we won’t be here forever. Yet in the face of this almost inconceivable insignificance, humanity is capable of great and kind things when we recognize we are one species, responsible for the care of each other, and our planet, together. The Humanity Star is to remind us of this.

No matter where you are in the world, rich or in poverty, in conflict or at peace, everyone will be able to see the bright, blinking Humanity Star orbiting Earth in the night sky. My hope is that everyone looking up at the Humanity Star will look past it to the expanse of the universe, feel a connection to our place in it and think a little differently about their lives, actions and what is important.

Wait for when the Humanity Star is overhead and take your loved ones outside to look up and reflect. You may just feel a connection to the more than seven billion other people on this planet we share this ride with.

My brother-in-law says the Humanity Star is, “burning man thing in space news this week” but professional astronomers call it a pain in the ass.

One thing is certain. This may be the first example of Space Advertising.

I was only trying to help…

heather-wise-jesus

Stories surfaced of a botched restoration of baby Jesus’ head at a Canadian church. The local artist volunteered to provide her services, saving the church the $10,000 quoted for a professional restoration. She was honored to be chosen but was clearly  out of her league and openly admitted her experience was thin.

She had learned how to sculpt at a local college, but had never worked with stone. Still, she felt compelled to help.

You get what you pay for.

Related to a 2012 story of another act of kindness gone wrong. In Spain authorities suspected vandalism of the famous “ecco homo” until they discovered that it was just the worst art restoration project of all time.

ecco-homo

Then there was Mr. Bean

Lighthouse Found

Photo by Maurice Ramirez
Photo by Maurice Ramirez

There is a tradition of public mischief and random acts of art in the Bay Area. From The Cacophony Society, to The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Billboard Liberation Front all the way back to Coyle & Sharpe, the people of San Francisco have delighted themselves by poking at authority with a wink and a smile. As Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane famously said, “San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality.

It was in this spirit that a group of “guerrilla artists” carefully installed beautifully-crafted replicas of famous lighthouses around Alameda Island where I live. There was no explanation, no release party, just a curious mention in the local paper of a Lighthouse Model Assemblers Organization (LMAO) written by a Honorable Admiral Banyan Azimuth, (Retired) Most shrugged it off as an April Fool’s prank but upon further investigation, after spotting another lighthouse on the other end of the Island, further layers of the onion peeled away and it was very, very real.

We take our performance art seriously here. If Chicken John runs for mayor, he is not only doing it to have some fun but also to make a statement. My journey to uncover the four lighthouses of Alameda took me to the nether corners of the Island all along the coastline into hidden corners and pocket parks that I didn’t know existed. I discovered that Alameda was a major destination for steamships bringing fruit to North America where they were packaged by Del Monte before being loaded on to the trans-continental railway. The puzzle forced me to reach out to others to try and connect the dots.

Art exercises the mind, public art exercises society.

My progress was tracked until finally a totem was left on my front doorstep. Later, I received a text message asking for my presence at an awards ceremony where I, along with Eddie Cruz, another local Alameda resident, were presented with secret elixers and a ceremonial chalice while we were inducted into the Alameda Lighthouse Appreciation Society (ALAS). There is a group of elves in Alameda, at play with the world around us. If you want to join them, leave a note below and they will find you.

Walking Backwards

Do you ever feel like you’re moving through a fog, going backwards? The clip from Tokyo Reverse is a highlight reel from a 9 hour video of someone who did just that, walk through the streets of Tokyo, in reverse. Ludovic Zuili, the man in the video, was filmed walking backwards and then the footage was flipped around so that he was shown walking forwards and everyone else is shown walking in reverse. The effect is strange and, trippy.

Those of you who know Tokyo will recognize Shibuya, Harajuku, and Akihabara in the clip.

Read more on BBC and Le Monde