An Astronaut and Photographer Collaboratively Document the Vast International Space Station in a New Book
In what is believed to be the first collaboration between an Earth-bound artist and an astronaut in space, photographer Roland Miller and engineer Paolo Nespoli have recorded the momentous journey of NASA’s International Space Station (ISS). The two have been working together during the last few years to document the current technologies and sights of modern space travel. They’ve shot extraordinary photographs of an ocean blanketed with clouds, the wire labyrinths lining the vehicle, and astronaut’s bulging suits and helmets. “If you were to stand there and look at (the spacecraft), I’m hoping that this is how you would see it,” Miller shares with Colossal.
The project began after the photographer spoke with astronaut and chemist Cady Coleman, who encouraged him to share his vision and approach to the medium with those on the space station. While researching the possibilities for such an endeavor, he discovered that Coleman is an avid flutist and would carry several of the instruments with her during missions. She even performed a duet with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, while he was in Russia and she far above the earth, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first human launch. “And I thought, what if I did something like that? Maybe I could somehow work with an astronaut directly,” Miller says.
While a similar process executed simultaneously proved too complicated, the photographer decided on a unique collaboration utilizing Google Street View, which shows both the views inside and outside the ISS. “Not only could I use it to see what the station really looked like, but I could do screenshots of parts of it,” he says, a process that he ultimately used. Miller would capture different portions within the station or views out its windows and share them with Nespoli, who would then recreate the image during a mission.
Because the ISS was in a weightless environment with fluctuating light, many of the images astronauts typically capture utilize a flash, which Miller, who generally photographs using a very low shutter speed, wanted to avoid. “The first problem you run into is you can’t use a tripod in space because it just floats away, and the station itself is going 17,500 miles an hour. Just because of the size and the speed, there’s a harmonic vibration to it,” he notes. To combat the constant quivering, Nespoli constructed a stabilizing bipod and shot about 135 images with a high shutter speed, before sending the shots to Miller for aesthetic editing.
Now, the photographs have culminated in a 200-page, full-color book titled Interior Space: A Visual Exploration of the International Space Station, which already has passed its fundraising goal on Kickstarter and still has 17 days to go. Included in the forthcoming tome are essays by four experts, the celestial photographs, and some Earth-based shots, which Miller took separately at the Kennedy and Johnson space centers. These images range from scaffolding obscuring a Pressurized Mating Adapter to up-close frames of a potable water cooler that position the dials and buttons side-by-side with stickers chronicling previous missions. With a publish date of November 2, 2020, Interior Space will launch the 20-year anniversary of uninterrupted human habitation on the ISS.
Preferring an abstract, documentarian approach, Miller strives to tell a broader story that integrates design, art, and science. “It makes it more visually interesting than just topographic recording of things,” he says, noting that he always layers his photographs with distinct elements. Miller explains his particular fascination with space artifacts and the ISS:
This is a very good subject for that because they’re really amazing, beautiful things and are very complex modules… If you look at Star Trek and people walk down these spacious, pristine, white-walled hallways with carpeting and nice lights, and then you look at what a real spacecraft is, and you look at that hallway with wires and cables and computers hanging out, and it’s just crazy, chaotic, a mess of stuff. I think it’s really good to show this is what it really looks like… This is the reality of space travel right now.
An ardent photographer for more than 30 years, Miller’s foray into the field began with a visit to an old launchpad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. He previously shot the NASA, Air Force, and Army facilities across the United States for his 2016 book, Abandoned in Place: Preserving America’s Space History. The collection contains a glimpse into the stations, launchpads, and other vehicles that have been deactivated, repurposed, and even demolished in recent years.
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Earlier this year, photographer Mathieu Stern discovered a time capsule dating back to the early 1900s in his family home. The 120-year-old box held a little girl’s cherished possessions, including a paper doll, seashell, and two glass plate negatives. Stern decided to develop the photographs using Cyanotype, one of the earliest printing processes that was prevalent well into the 20th century, and revealed images of the child’s pets. The photographer chronicled the entire endeavor in a video, which you can find on his YouTube and Instagram, and check out the finished prints of the furry companions below. (via PetaPixel)
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Masks, Toilet Paper, and Thermometers Transform into Miniature, Outdoor Adventures by Artist Tatsuya Tanaka
In the time of COVID-19, disposable face masks, toilet paper, and other essentials are synonymous with safety, precaution, and staying indoors. But in Tatsuya Tanaka’s ongoing Miniature Calendar series, the everyday items are subverted to create the tiny sets of outdoor adventures. A folded mask serves as a small tent, toilet paper descends from a wall holder as a snowy ski hill, and a thermometer outfitted with wheels transforms into a speedy racecar. For more of the miniature scenes from the Japanese artist and photographer (previously), head to Instagram, where he publishes a new piece daily. (via Lustik)
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As a child, Elinleticia Högabo had a troubled relationship with water. Despite a deep fascination with its dreamy qualities, she avoided swimming below the surface or in any areas of considerable depth after two traumatic experiences in which she almost drowned. When she was chosen for an exhibition that centered on rusalka—a female creature similar to a mermaid that’s found in Slavic folklore—Högabo tried to capture shots of her submerged subjects from above before realizing she had to plunge in. “But in search (of) better and better pictures, I finally got myself an underwater camera and went down in the silent world. The silent world concept is from the fact that under the water surface, it’s a silent world where you, as fully hearing people, hear as little (as) me,” says the photographer, who was born with a hearing impairment.
Today, Högabo gladly dives into lakes and other bodies with her camera in tow. She captures singular subjects or duos as they breach the water’s surface or descend to the algae-laden floor. Through ripples and small bubbles, the water disguises the models and their exact positions and gestures, which blurs any distinct features and perceptions of depth.
Based in southern Sweden, the photographer tells Colossal that she outlines the details of most photographs in advance, although she generally alters her plans in the moment. “The location, the water, the models, the bugs that might crawl by—all create conditions for the creation,” Högabo says. A multi-disciplinary artist, she styles and provides makeup artistry on-site, as well.
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Frank Kunert (previously) is a Germany-based photographer and modelmaker who creates mind-stretching scenes that, from afar, appear like everyday urban environments with the same beige color palette and concrete walls that are common across the world. On closer inspection, though, Kunert’s work reveals itself to be a series of surreal scenarios—he takes viewers on a fantastical journey in which mundane objects are transformed and merged into unusual architectural scenes that explore the “absurdity of life.”
In one work, a cot is sandwiched in the middle of a desk and bookcases, while in another, two old stools sitting on a small carpet face a large window that resides high in the sky, with two minuscule glasses of rosy wine positioned beside them. Each piece of Kunert’s tiny, perception-twisting models takes him weeks to months to create, and afterward, he photographs them with a large-format, analog camera.
Kunert turns common objects into pieces of admiration, giving viewers the chance to reflect on redesigning old collectibles or waste items for new uses. Throughout this period, social distancing has influenced Kunert’s work and many of his designs reflect a new normal. For example, he redesigned an old wooden table, which he divided into individual booths for diners.
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A collaboration between photographer CheukLun LO, of STUFF Studio, and floral artist bloom bloom FLEUR, Oceania celebrates the mysterious and dreamy qualities of the ocean. The series of photographs is centered on botanical sculptures comprised of jewel-toned petals and thick fronds that float through the dark water. Each luxuriant composition is submerged, whether fully underwater or in between the air and ocean depths.
Björk’s 2004 song by the same name inspired the vibrant series. “The full vocal simulation of the sound of the sea waves and bubbles, using singing to create a mysterious and enchanting deep-sea world, the ocean is the origin of life on Earth,” LO tells Colossal. Each floral piece represents a continent surrounded by ever-productive and elusive ocean ecosystems. “The underwater world seems to be another more colorful and spectacular land,” he says.
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