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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Compiling more than 500 cards, a new book sequences an incredibly diverse array of metaphysical decks from medieval to modern times. Tarot is arranged in order from the Major to the Minor Arcana and examines the meaning behind the varied illustrations, considering who created them and when. From a whimsical, black-and-white rendering of The Lovers by Madison Ross to French occultist Jean-Baptise Alliette’s pastel series, the compendium explores the collaborations between mystics and artists that have been happening for centuries. Many of the pieces included in the 520-page book are being shown outside their respective decks for the first time.
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Artist Glen Taylor solders ridges of metal to porcelain fragments, completing a halved teacup or broken saucer with a range of unusual materials: barbed wire, tarnished silverware, old book pages, and multicolored twine form a portion of the household objects. Each intervention contrasts the pristine, delicate qualities of the porcelain with the visible rust, unwieldy strings, and patchwork metals.
A cabinetmaker for much of his life, Taylor originally worked with pottery but found it limiting until he started breaking his ceramics into pieces. “I had read about the ancient art of Kintsugi and decades before I had learned how to copper foil and solder stained glass windows. All of a sudden I felt the emotional expressive range was infinite,” he writes. A Japanese art form, Kintsugi is the process of fixing broken pottery and celebrating the repairs, rather than try to hide them.
Now, Taylor gathers materials at auctions and estate sales, choosing pieces that spur an emotional response or nostalgia for his childhood, although some objects have a more personal connection. “For years, I have had my grandmother’s dishes in the attic, wondering what to do with them,” he says. “My mother died last year and so I have let the grieving process appear when it needs to. I released a lot of emotions about my mother when I started breaking the dishes that she grew up with.”
The artist tells Colossal that the broken pieces also are symbolic of imperfection. “As I began mending and recreating my broken pottery, the personal therapy and healing became the whole point,” he says. “I reached an age where I began sorting through the emotional baggage of my life, and the elements for my work became apparent.”
For a deeper look into Taylor’s mended works and a glimpse at his process, follow him Instagram.
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Browse Hundreds of Artist's Zines, Prints, and Other Works at the Virtual Brooklyn Art Book Fair This Weekend
The Brooklyn Art Book Fair has moved its 2020 market online, extending the opportunity to pore through the offerings from artists and independent publishers to those who don’t reside in New York City. This year’s fair boasts more than 400 publications presented by 45 vendors, like The Free Black Woman’s Library, Printed Matter, and Paradise Systems. Founded in 2017 to provide smaller presses and artists the opportunity to showcase their work without a financial barrier, this is the fourth iteration of the annual event organized by Endless Editions.
We’ve gathered a few of the offerings here: Khari Johnson-Ricks’s “A real Conversation,” a vibrant screenprint of one of the artist’s incredibly detailed collages; “Friendship Forever,” a humorous collection of comics, by Inkee Wang; and Sarula Bao’s queer romance narrative “Changing Faces.” Browse the available prints, zines, and other artworks on the fair’s site, and pop into the artist chats throughout the weekend.
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An ancient-book collector is offering a rare glimpse into a Sino-Tibetan book that’s believed to have been printed as early as 1410 in Beijing. A self-described bibliophile known as Incunabula, the collector shared a thread containing dozens of images showing inside spreads full of red ink drawings and Ranjana script, a writing system developed in the 11th century. The Gutenberg Bible, which was printed with movable metal type, dates back to 1454, nearly 45 years after this woodblock-produced text.
Within its accordion-fold pages, the ancient book contains impeccably detailed “Sanskrit dhāranīs and illustrations of protective mantra-diagrams and deities” and a collection of Tibetan Buddhist recitation texts. It has more durable, black covers that are covered in gold-paint drawings featuring “20 icons of the Tathāgatas,” which roughly translates to “one who has gone.” All text is printed twice on each side of the paper to allow for right-to-left and left-to-right readings in both the Indo-Tibetan and Chinese styles, respectively.
“During the early Ming, close relations were established between Tibetan monks and the imperial court in Beijing. Although not directly part of the Buddhist canon, this work relates closely to the manner of woodblock carving employed for the production of the Sino-Tibetan Kangyur,” the collector writes.
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Cabinet of Curiosities: A New Book Opens Centuries-Old Collections of Fossils, Sculptures, and Other Oddities
In a span of more than 350 pages, Italian photographer Massimo Listri captures some of the most wondrous and bizarre collections gathered throughout history. Cabinet of Curiosities, a new XXL edition from Taschen, is comprised of countless artifacts from the Renaissance to modern-day. Including massive fossils, excavated coral growths, and impeccably preserved sculptures, Listri’s photographs capture treasures of natural history, art, astrology, biology, and design. Many of the eccentric collections were maintained formerly by aristocrats, such as Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, and Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg.
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.