The Nevada Museum Of Art and the artist Trevor Paglen are crowdfunding to launch—literally—a sculptural satellite into space, “purely as an artistic gesture”, according to the museum, which aims to raise at least $70,000 to help get the work off the ground. “I’m going to create a reason for you to look up at the sky, and think about what it is that you’re looking at,” Paglen says in a Kickstarter video.
Orbital Reflector is a mylar balloon that will be deployed from a small brick-sized container sent up into low-earth orbit on a SpaceX rocket from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base next summer. The launch is timed to coincide with a mid-career retrospective of Paglen’s work planned at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.
To realise the project, Paglen is working with the firm Global Western and the retired satellite engineer Zia Oboodiyat, who he’s known since they partnered on another work attached to a satellite, The Last Pictures (2012). While early models for Orbital Reflector, shown at the Art Basel fair and the Nevada Museum of Art, imagined a spherical balloon, the team realised that they needed to create “an object that has the maximum amount of surface area, so it can be as bright as it can be when seen from the ground,” Paglen says.