Space, Fragility and Introspection
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Space, Fragility and Introspection

A conversation with Sebastian Errazuriz
STIR connected with artist Sebastian Errazuriz to peek into his abiding passion for interstellar space.

by Zohra Khan Aug 15, 2019

For New York-based artist, designer and activist, Sebastian Errazuriz, change depends on our visual approach to life, in our ability to step back, and looking at challenges in different perspectives. For him a conscious awareness of our fragile existence has been a major inspiration in life and a medium of intuitive conversations.

Invoking this awareness to reach the larger collective, Erazurriz created the ‘blue marble’ - a public art project that brought the people of New York to chance upon a surprising encounter on a regular day. On March 13, 2019, a monumental 20-foot LED structure was installed in a dormant lot in 159 Ludlow Street in Manhattan. The temporary installation had a circular screen that depicted live images of the Earth streaming through a NASA satellite in space. During the launch night, a parallel display was projected on the upper reaches of the New Museum facade where large masses gathered on streets to witness the exquisite blue ball in front of them. In return, people contemplated their own presence in form and scale that was never experienced before.

  • ‘blue marble’ at 159 Ludlow Street in Manhattan | blue marble |  Sebastian Errazuriz | STIR
    ‘blue marble’ at 159 Ludlow Street in Manhattan Image Credit: Charles Roussel
  • ‘blue marble’ at the New Museum, Manhattan | blue marble | Sebastian Errazuriz | STIR
    ‘blue marble’ projected on the façade of the New Museum in Manhattan Image Credit: Charles Sykes_AP Images

“It (blue marble) places our very existence in perspective at a global level – as a tiny spec in space – beckoning us to live fully with an awareness and mindfulness of our limited time on this vulnerable and beautiful planet,” says Errazuriz.

  • Concept render | blue marble | Sebastian Errazuriz | STIR
    Concept render of the ‘blue marble’ as projected on the façade of the New Museum in Manhattan Image Credit: Courtesy of Sebastian Errazuriz Studio
  • Conceptual drawing | blue marble | Sebastian Errazuriz | STIR
    Conceptual drawing of the ‘blue marble’ as projected on the façade of the New Museum in Manhattan Image Credit: Courtesy of Sebastian Errazuriz Studio
  • Concept render | blue marble | Sebastian Errazuriz | STIR
    Concept render of the ‘blue marble’ as projected on a vacant lot at 159 Ludlow Street in Manhattan Image Credit: Courtesy of Sebastian Errazuriz Studio
  • Conceptual drawing| blue marble | Sebastian Errazuriz | STIR
    Conceptual drawing of the ‘blue marble’ as projected on a vacant lot at 159 Ludlow Street in Manhattan Image Credit: Courtesy of Sebastian Errazuriz Studio

STIR connected with the artist in an email conversation to peek into his interest for interstellar space that inspired him to ideate this intriguing project.   

Zohra Khan (ZK): What fascinates you about the idea of space? What inspired you for this work?

Sebastian Errazuriz (SE): I don't know... How about the fact that we are in space but rarely acknowledge it? That we are fighting ourselves for little bits of a tiny rock spinning in space around a giant ball of fire at 100,000 km an hour? I am actually dumbfounded that space and our fragile minuscule relationship with it, isn't the subject inspiring most of the art we make.

A rapt audience experiencing ‘blue marble’ | blue marble | Sebastian Errazuriz | STIR
A rapt audience experiencing ‘blue marble’ Image Credit: Charles Roussel

ZK: Why was it important for you to involve the general public and make this audience a part of your work?

SE: I was trying to recreate what astronauts call the "overview effect" - that macro perspective and understanding obtained only from space by being able to look at the entirety of our planet and its fragility. The ultimate big picture. A "You are here now" realization moment within an infinite time and space continuum.

ZK:  Man's landing on the moon was one of the greatest achievements that humanity has ever witnessed. Do you think such a breakthrough is possible in the domains of art and design?

SE: It is completely possible and its breakthrough lies not within the ability to design one more improvement within our current world, but the ability to create a world in itself. So we are talking Augmented reality, parallel layers or dimensions within nanotechnology and microbiology.

  • Historic image of the Blue Marble | blue marble | Sebastian Errazuriz | STIR
    Historic image of the Blue Marble Image Credit: Courtesy of Sebastian Errazuriz Studio
  • Historic image of the Blue Marble | blue marble | Sebastian Errazuriz | STIR
    Historic image of the Blue Marble Image Credit: Courtesy of Sebastian Errazuriz Studio

ZK:  And what do you think is limiting us from achieving that feat?

SE: None. It's inevitable. A decade or two at most.

Artist Sebastian Errazuriz in front of the ‘blue marble’ installation at 159 Ludlow Street | blue marble | Sebastian Errazuriz | STIR
Artist Sebastian Errazuriz in front of the ‘blue marble’ installation at 159 Ludlow Stree Image Credit: Benjamin Lozovsky_BFA.com

blue marble was Errazuriz’s tribute to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of Apollo 11 that landed man on the moon, a historic moment that shifted human perspective on limitation and possibility.

Through this work, the artist paid homage to the iconic picture of the ‘Blue Marble’ that gave us the first glimpse of the Earth. It was captured by Apollo 17 while it was on its last lunar mission, three years after the Apollo 11 feat. The remarkable photograph was scaled up and brought to life in Errazuriz’s installation to foster awareness for the need of thought, introspection and perspective in the fast-paced reality of today.

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than two years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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