These aren’t the most favorable times for space flight we live in. Last month space shuttle Atlantis completed its final mission, signaling the retirement of the whole three decade long program. Currently NASA is left without a means of its own to launch astronauts into space for missions, like those to the International Space Station, having to rely on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft or privately funded ventures, like SpaceX. To make things worse, the ISS will get sunk in the ocean soon enough, 2020, after it received an extension on its operation period.
It’s easy then to become disheartened and even wonder if man will return to its golden age of space exploration. This is something that photographer Neil DaCosta and art director Sara Phillips might have possibly pondered when they decided to shoot a strip of photos centered around an unemployed, miserable astronaut shown in different angles as he succumbs through various methods of suicide.
Dissapointed of the state of nation’s space ambitions today, the two felt compelled to express it how they know best – photo art.
“The concept came about after chatting about childhood aspirations,” says Phillips. “As a kid I remembered wanting to be an astronaut, it seems like that’s less likely to be on someone’s lips today.”
The whole gallery, dubbed Astronaut Suicide, is dark, but its satirical nature eventually leaves room for humor to surface. The project was shot in Portland, Oregon, over two days, during which they used a Hollywood space astronaut props suit.
While suicide isn’t a matter to be taking lightly, the project does well to surface emotions, which was probably its immediate goal in the first place. It’s intention is not that of shattering dreams even further, but more of a remainder never to take our eyes off the stars.
“We wanted to acknowledge the end of an era in a visual way that would bring the conversation to the creative community,” says Phillips. “The incongruity of the astronaut in these situations is, we hope, compelling and humorous, and we hope that we’re encouraging a younger audience to pay attention to what’s going on.
Closely related, I’d like to invite you to check out the photo interview ZME Science made with Hunter Freeman about his own perception of unemployed astronauts.