An interactive installation has many functions: providing a sensory experience, stimulating the imagination, and even just providing a beautiful visual. Part of the fun of playing with a new thing is learning the ways we can use (and artfully misuse) it, but an installation also encourages us to consider other, less immediate possibilities. For instance, what would it be like to interact with a machine intended not for our present day, planet, or even for the human race as a whole?
Boris 504’s Non Human Device installations ask us to imagine just that. The Boris 504 project, which straddles the worlds of new-media art and speculative fiction, takes as its inspiration “Details of the Soviet Primate Lunar Landing Program,” Dwayne Allen Day’s 1969 satire of Soviet space histories. In that satire, the chimpanzee cosmonaut Boris 504 was reported to have successfully completed a trip to the moon, only to die on the lunar surface not long after landing. For their own take on the Boris 504 story, artists Rodrigo Carvalho and Miguel Neto supposed that the chimp continued his exploration deeper and deeper into space, eventually arriving at "Kepler22b, an exoplanet from the Kepler-16 binary star system." There, he discovered some metallic objects of unknown origin, which he sent to the Vladivostok Space Center on Earth in a hyperspace capsule. And now these non-human objects have been delivered to you.
Kepler22b Report #01 / #02 / #03 BC504
According to the website, investigators believe the objects to be interfaces for controlling “the position and orientation in space and time of something bigger,” perhaps an alien spacecraft.
Each interface reacts to your movements to “interfere with audiovisual signals” and create “space-time distortions” that you can see and hear in real time.
Kepler22b Report #04 / #05 BC504
The installation recalls recent work that captures the movements of dancers to generate abstract digital shapes and forms. The combination of this motion-response function and the project’s “futuristic sci-fi aesthetic” gives these installations an authentic sense of strangeness. To use one is to interact with an otherworldly machine, an inhuman robotic organism.
For more on Soviet space travel read our previous piece on the New Museum's Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module: