There are those days that you feel outside of yourself–your mind is elsewhere and you’re unable to stay grounded. Daydreams lift our minds in the clouds and we are transported from the moment. In his series ALIENation, Italian photographer Graziano Panfili’s captures these drifters- the ones “that have big dreams.” They are alien to their surroundings. And we’ve all been there.
Ame72, Jaime Ame, is a self-proclaimed modern day pop artist. Taking to both the street and gallery, the graffiti artist uses his cans of spray paint to create isolated portraits of moonmen in Technicolor. The Lego man whose hair and hat can be interchanged at a moments notice to become a businessman, cowboy or space ranger are mass-produced playtoys. They are seen as symbols of abundance and consumerism. But the astronaut at least in our eyes (see Week 1-112 of TFIB’s Space of the Week) is a archetype of artistic creativity, where the bounds of creativity go well beyond the stratosphere. Repetition can only reinforce such.
I always wished that NASA sent an civilian artist into outer space, so they could tell us what its really like up there. To really know what it was like to be a civilian gazing back at that pale blue dot is a grandiose effort.
The ability to translate the experience of floating above earth takes special skill. I am currently rooting for Portland State University Professor Cameron Smith. This Professor of Anthropology in the Pacific Northwest has built a fully functional space suit in his living room. He will use it to reach the lower stratosphere via balloon, approximately 50,000 feet above our humble vantage point. With a DIY manifest destiny sort of feel to it, Smith has taken it upon himself to be part of this human experience of hovering above planet earth. Smith has constructed a fully operational space suit with salvaged materials and finds from EBay. Hopefully an anthropologist can relay back the human experience of floating above.
Only a few months ago we mourned the loss of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the face of the moon. Possibly in commemoration, Tom Buch transforms the likeness of the patriot with speckles of the galaxy and waves of the Sea of Tranquility filling out his complexion.
An ode to the first man to walk on the moon and the historic achievement. I modelled a young Neil Armstrong in Zbrush. I aimed to to apply the surface textures from the moon and earth in Cinema4D. I later created a moon scene in C4D. Photoshop was used for colour correction and final touches of digital paint.
Armstrong, the only civilian to fly in the Apollo missions, had the mind of a philosopher and the heart of a poet. His now famous transmissions back to Houston, reporting “The Eagle has wings” when the landing module departed from the CSM or “One small step…” when taking the first steps of his lunar ballet, were a trademark of his focused, artistic soul. I have seen few portraits of Armstrong that have captured this spirit, it is no small feat. But for a hero whose feet have gone where no man has gone before, it is only appropriate.
Felix Baumgartner plans to do what no man has ever done before at heights no man has experienced: he is going to become the first man to break the sound barrier with a free fall leap. He will jump with only his pressure space suit to shelter him as he soars into the history books at a record breaking 720 miles per hour.
Strapped into a suit sponsored by the energy drink that promises to give you wings, Red Bull, forty three year old former Austrian paratrooper Baumgartner will jump a record breaking 22 miles above the earth this Sunday, October 14th. Although the jump was originally planned for this past Wednesday, if successful the jump this weekend will be 65 years to the day that mankind first made the giant leap over the sound barrier. Flyboy Chuck Yeager aboard a rocket beast X-1 named Glamorous Glennis after his wife was the first man to crush this barrier on October 14, 1942.
The dive to earth will take just over five minutes before his parachute opens to cushion him home. Until then he has only his full pressure suit. Baumgartner’s suit resembles that of a shuttle astronaut. It has four layers: a comfort liner, a gas container fitted to his body, netting to keep the aforementioned layer in place, and an insulating exterior shell. The suit is unique in its degree of maneuverability. This trait is critical in the mission’s success. Andrew Zaleski wrote the following in the July/August issue of The Atlantic:
And this is where Baumgartner’s suit represents such a leap forward. If he’s to have a decent shot at surviving the fall, his suit must be maneuverable. He needs to go from a pencil dive, when he first hops off his capsule’s platform, into a head-down “delta” position, with his arms at his side. If he flubs that hop–if he pushes off with too much force, say–he could tumble into an uncontrolled spin, the force of which could kill him. And so his getup, unlike NASA space suits, which come in 12 standard sizes, is custom-tailored.
When Fearless Felix makes his leap, his suit, helmet and gloves are his only protection from a thin atmosphere and chillingly cold temperatures.
His blood could boil or gravity could crush him into the ground, but his biggest fear derives from his one source of protection: overwhelming claustrophobia. During his leap as well as the two-hour assent to record heights he will be in single radio communication with the individual that helped him conquer this fear: Joe Kittinger. Eighty four year old former command pilot Kittinger who previously set the free fall world record in 1960 with a 19 mile leap comments the new suit, “Comparing my equipment to what Felix has is like comparing a Model T to a 2020 Ferrari.”
Travel in style, always.
Emilio Pucci designed the Space Bubble Helmet for Dallas-based Braniff Airlines in 1965. These glass bubble domes were designed to keep flight attendants hairstyles from getting ruined on the windy tarmac. Pucci designed the attendents uniforms with the same flair and bright patterns that he is known for. Braniff wanted to create a new way of flying and branded itself as the rebel airline; Pucci was hired by Wells, Rich, Greene along with New Mexico architect Alexander Girard and shoe designer Beth Levine to design the “End of the Plain Plane” campaign. The air fleet was painted in nine different colors with bright Herman Miller interiors that matched the vibrancy of its airline crew.
The Braniff brand became a new jet-setting lifestyle. The Pucci space helmet, while being sophisticated and elegant, was playful in an era where headwear was dominated by military caps & wool pill boxes (a la Jackie Kennedy). It gave color and vibrancy to a jet-setting, moon-landing era. Similarly, Pucci designed the Apollo 15 patch of three stylized birds flying over the lunar surface – further proof that there is nothing plain to human flight.
Dominik Smialowski casts a skyfarer in the vast green and lush Icelandic landscape with his The Pilot’s Melancholy. The astronaut is all alone, isolated with only the grey, cloudy sky above to comfort him. His suit, intricate with its ties, buckles and features resembles an exoskeleton–a plush shell harded to protect against the elements and possibly loneliness.
Thank to reader Travis for passing these along.
At the end of an incredibly long work week, I had a seat at my neighborhood bar. The young man sitting to my right had stars shaved into one side of his mohawk. I began comparing his hair to the style of JPL’s Flight Director Bobak Ferdowsi and how he wore it during the landing of Curiosity. This hair-do opened the floodgates and suddenly I was babbling about the Rover, Mars, the future of NASA, space exploration in the United States, blah blah… I’m sorry stranger that I sat down next to you. Mars is incredible. And Curiosity is beginning to share it all with us – more in depth than Spirit or Opportunity was ever able to do.
David Penela’s Cosmonaut series is subtly lovely. The cosmonauts, donned in their NASA Mercury-like suits, scale the red planet. Their lips are the same red as the soil, they are part of the landscape. The cosmonauts belong on the martian soil.