Imagen del proyecto VastWaste, de ögze Samanci, en Electronic Fields 2023.

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VastWaste. Özge Samanci

  • VastWaste will be on view at the Reina Town Hall from 27/10 to 5/11.

Humans once considered the oceans to be limitless and therefore impossible to pollute, until we created the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The same pattern is now repeating itself with respect to outer space.

VastWaste, by Özge Semanci (Izmir, Turkey), is a data-driven virtual reality and projeection installation that illustrates the parallels and interaction between marine pollution and space debris.

Human activities have scattered millions of objects into the Earth’s orbit. Because there is no friction, debris travels at 18,000 mph, so even small specks of paint can cause explosive collisions. There are currently some 4,000 operational satellites in Earth orbit and the amount of space debris is already at a critical point. US and European space agencies track space debris and manoeuvre spacecraft to avoid collisions.

No solution to mitigate space debris is yet known, but if the amount of space debris exceeds a critical mass, each collision will cause more collisions, in a chain reaction known as the Kessler effect. Ultimately, future spacecraft launches from Earth may become impossible.

VastWaste generates an ever-changing Kessler effect, accompanied by a data-driven soundtrack. In this installation, satellites rotate according to the velocity of the marine debris, which is calculated using ocean currents and ocean winds. In turn, the number of fragments falling into the ocean is linked to the human use of the satellites, symbolised by the number of tweets per second.

The generative music varies with each play depending on the collisions, the number of fragments, their contact with the ocean surface and their descent into the deep sea. Humans observe marine pollution with satellites, and bury dead satellites in our oceans. The future of these two vast spaces is intertwined.

About Özge Samanci

Özge Samanci is a multimedia artist, graphic novelist and Associate Professor at Northwestern University’s School of Communication (Illinois, USA). Her interactive installations have been exhibited internationally, at Siggraph Art Gallery, FILE Festival, Currents New Media, Tech Museum of Innovation, WRO Media Art Biennial, Athens International Festival of Digital Arts and New Media, Piksel and ISEA, among others.

Her autobiographical graphic novel Dare to Disappoint. Growing Up in Turkey (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015) received international press attention, was positively reviewed in The New York Times and The Guardian, among many other media outlets, and has been translated into six languages. His drawings have appeared in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Slate Magazine, The Huffington Post, Airmail, Guernica and The Rumpus, among other media. In 2017 she received the Berlin Prize and was a Holtzbrinck Fellow in Visual Arts at the American Academy in Berlin.

More information about Özge Samanci