Strange Attractors: The Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Art Vol. 2: The Rings of Saturn

Strange Attractors: The Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Art Vol. 2: The Rings of Saturn

This is the second edition of a project that began a year ago in Los Angeles, with Vol. 1: Life On Earth. That exhibition marked 40 years since NASA's launch of the twin Voyager space probes. Having traveled beyond the rings and moon of Saturn, the probes are expected to continue their mission in interstellar space for another seven years, until about 2025, at which time nearly a half century will have passed. The Voyager probes are the oldest man-made objects sent furthest from the Earth. Voyager has entered into the realm of mythology, not only for its mission, which continues, but with its ultimate "message in a bottle," a record of life on our planet.

Each of the probes carried with them a Golden Disc, a compilation of images, scientific data, natural sounds, greetings in 55 languages, and music presenting an overview of life on Earth, including everything from Bach played by Glenn Gould to Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode. At the time, the folklorist Alan Lomax objected to that song as adolescent, but Carl Sagan, who headed the project, defended its inclusion by insisting, "There are a lot of adolescents on the planet." (Other than a stylus, the discs came with no playback system. If one of the probes is discovered, and with it a Golden Disc, how do we know if intelligent life will figure out how it can be played? And if the intelligent life is adolescent, might a disc more readily be used as a frisbee?) Another song that was initially chosen, Here Comes the Sun, by the Beatles, had to be left off the disc; although the group agreed, their record company, EMI, which held the copyright, refused. We can only wonder: did it occur to anyone to replace it with Nina Simone's interpretation? Would it have mattered that she was black and a woman? Or was her balancing act, infusing hope with sadness, simply too human?

Strange Attractors: The Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Art Vol. 2: The Rings of Saturn

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