Oct 24, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Eyes on Elsewheres
With Minna Långström, Dawn Sumner & Janet Vertesi
Presented during the 12th edition of the Imagine Science Film Festival in NYC (Oct 18-25), this companion program expands upon the festival’s 2019 theme of EMERGENCE: the ability of simple parts acting together to give rise to complicated properties unobserved in the parts alone, whether on the level of chemical interactions or universal social change.
Through this program of films we’ll ask how do we observe that which we cannot experience directly? Whether searching the surfaces of distant planets or peering into the quantum world, science seeks to extend our perception ever further. But the further we seek, the more perception, always subjective, may become a metaphor for reality. What is the truth, even, of a photographic image? Centered on The Other Side of Mars, a philosophical feature study of the exploration and documentation of the surface of Mars via robotic rover, along with films set in CERN and on the moon, this program asks questions at the top levels of scientific theory: of how much we can ever hope to know.
For María Molina Peiró, Semiconductor and Minna Långström, this manifests through the photographs of astronaut Charles Duke, humanity’s place at the European Organization for Nuclear Research and the otherworldly process of photography on Mars.
21 min., 2019
María Molina Peiró
In 1972 the astronaut Charles Duke landed on the Moon on the Apollo XVI. He was in charge of taking photos of the lunar surface with a high-resolution camera. ‘The Sasha’ is a story about the human perspective on Earth and our constant struggle with our temporal and spatial limitations. From the exploration of space to cyberspace, from an analogue Moon in 1972 to a virtual Moon in Google Earth today. A film about parallel universes where eternity seems to be lost between frames and interfaces.
The View From Nowhere
13 min., 2018
The View from Nowhere is a single-channel moving image work which explores man’s place in nature through the science and technology of CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Geneva. Driven by an interest in the material nature of our physical world and how we experience it through the lens of science and technology, Semiconductor go looking for the techniques that are developed at CERN which ask fundamental questions about nature, and the languages which ensue to make sense of it. Through juxtaposing discussions around the application and processes of theoretical physics with filmed footage in CERN’s hi-tech workshops, Semiconductor explore the dichotomy that is revealed between the surprisingly creative pursuit of theoretically modelling our physical universe and the fixed/hard classical nature of producing instrumentation to test these notions. It reveals a sense of the scientific frameworks developed by man to explore matter beyond the limits of human experience, whilst raising questions about our place in the larger nature of reality.
The Other Side of Mars
55 min., 2019
NASA roboticist and Curiosity rover driver Vandi Verma works on Mars on a daily basis from her desk at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Los Angeles. Her work of navigating the rover in the Martian terrain relies to a large part on images and the technologically advanced use of them. Director Minna Långström, with a visual arts background, creates a philosophical journey into the world of Martian photography. Through the lenses of various experts, we learn how NASA’s’ images are made, used and manipulated for the sake of science, but also for reaching the public. Mars is the ideal place for an investigation into our paradoxical relationship to photography. Do images reflect reality or shape it?
Janet Vertesi is a sociologist of science and technology at Princeton University, where she is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department.At Princeton, she teaches classes on the Sociology of Technology; Sociology of Science; Work, Technology and Organizations; and Human-Computer Interaction.
The majority of Janet’s research is on robotic spacecraft teams at NASA, and how the teams’ social organization affects and reflects their robots’ activities and scientific results. Her first book, Seeing Like a Rover: How Robots, Teams, and Images Craft Knowledge of Mars is based on over two years of working with the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, and was published by University of Chicago Press in early 2015. Janet is also working on an ethnography of the Cassini Mission to Saturn, with a National Science Foundation Grant in SocioComputational Systems in collaboration with her Co-I’s at University of California, Irvine.
Minna Långström is a media artist and filmmaker from Helsinki, Finland. Her artistic work consists of films -short fiction and documentary-, as well as cinematic installations, combinging moving images with spatial elements. Her work processes tend to be extensive, well researched and interdisciplinary. Her work focuses on social perspectives on technologically mediated narratives and visual technologies, as well as certain political histories and their cinematic influences on the present. The intuitive experience and role of the viewer is a central aspect of her installations.
Dawn Sumner earned her B.S. with honors in Geology from the California Institute of Technology in 1989. She earned her Ph.D. in 1995 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she worked on 2.5 billion year old carbonates in South Africa to understand ocean chemistry prior to oxidation of the oceans and atmosphere. She then returned to Caltech as an O.K. Earl Postdoctoral Fellow. In 1996, Dawn joined the Faculty at University of California, Davis. Most of Dawn’s research focuses on understanding Earth’s early environments and microbial ecology, emphasizing the evolution oxygenic photosynthesis and its environmental effects. In recent years, her research expanded to include studying the microbial ecology of ice-covered Antarctic lakes that are analogs for ancient life on Earth and possibly elsewhere in the solar system. In addition, she works with NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, using the rover Curiosity to explore ancient environments in Gale Crater on Mars. Dawn regularly shares her research with the public and is dedicated to helping scientists of all backgrounds prepare for and succeed in scientific careers.