Last summer Trevor Paglen launched an archival silicon disk micro-etched with 100 photographs representing human history into space. A few months after that, French street artist Invader propelled one of his signature “Space Invader” figures into the atmosphere. And most recently, Shepard Fairey helped design the mission patch for an upcoming outing to the International Space Station. But now artists don’t have to launch physical matter into space to send their work to other worlds.
Lone Signal, a platform for crowd-sourcing messages to aliens, allows users to upload and digitally transmit content to targets believed to have the potential for life. Conceptual artist Kim Asendorf was invited to submit one of the first messages sent by the METI (Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) project, making this the first GIF sent into deep space.
Asendorf has used the platform to send his GIF, titled “Humans Watching Digital Art” (above), into the great unknown. According to Asendorf’s blog, the GIF was beamed at star constellation Gliese 526, which is about 17.6 light-years away from Earth. Because the animation is traveling at light speed, it will take 17.6 years for it to reach its target.
“Gliese 526 is identified as a potentially habitable solar system in ‘The Catalog of Nearby Habitable Systems,’” Asendorf writes. “This system’s position in the sky, as well as its relatively close proximity to the Earth, makes it an ideal choice as Lone Signal’s first target.”
Now that the first messages were sent on Tuesday, anyone can submit a message to be sent. People are already queuing up and their messages can be read on the Lone Signal website. Thus far, messages destined to alleged aliens range from noble — “Not all of us are bad. Many are kind. We are complicated and simple. We sometimes do things we don’t understand. We are all flawed.” — to playful: “Space space wanna go to space, ba! ba! ba! spaaaaaaaaaace!!! You’re in space… spaaaaaace!!!”
— Ashton Cooper
(Image: Kim Asendorf, “Humans Watching Digital Art.” Courtesy the artist.)