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  • Writer's pictureMerle Emrich

"Hi from Planet Earth!"

1977

The spacecraft Voyager 1 and 2 are launched into space to transmit data back to Earth. On board of each of the spacecraft is a Golden Record with sounds —natural sounds such as that of the wind or birds, and a selection of music from different cultures as well as greetings in 55 different ancient and modern languages— alongside 115 images that are meant to tell the story of human life on earth. On the cover of this time capsule of humanity are symbols that indicate how to use the Record and where it came from. 


Interlude

By now, both Voyager spacecrafts have left our planet’s solar system and are floating in empty space. In forty thousand years, they might begin to approach another planetary system. Carl Sagan—who chaired the committee appointed by NASA to select the content of the Golden Record—said: “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.” And who knows how humankind has changed until then—or if it even still exists in the 421st century.



Almost five decades after Voyager 1 and 2 were launched, a workshop under the title “Hi from Planet Earth!” was organized by MedeaLab as part of their Tender Time project. On March 23 and 24, children could record their own messages to extraterrestrials at Malmö Konsthall.


2024

The pale light of the early spring afternoon floods the exhibition space of Malmö Konsthall. It is calm here, quiet. A few visitors stroll between the exhibition pieces. But in the back of the museum is a separate room, and here it is bustling. The tables are filled with children and their parents or grandparents. They use toilet paper rolls and old socks to craft extraterrestrials that take in the world they’ve been created into with big googly eyes—often more than two. On Golden Records made of yellow paper, they write their own messages to space.


They place their messages in a box inside a spaceship constructed with wood, cardboard, and emergency blankets by students at Malmö International School to be symbolically sent off at the end of the day. Music is playing from the corner of the room next to the spaceship. There, the children can record their messages which are then mixed into the music and cut through the lively chatter.

There are greetings: “Hello, space!” and “Hello, extraterrestrials! How are you?”

And there are questions. “Do you speak English or Danish?” one child wonders.

“Do you even exist?” someone else wants to know, and “Will you come and visit us?” Others want to know more about their food preferences—“Do you like chips?”—and their interests: “Do you like to read?”


Tender Time

Almost fifty years have passed since the Golden Record was sent off into space, and perhaps our view on humankind has changed in the meantime. The Golden Record created a positive and hopeful image of human life on Earth by omitting evidence of war, destruction, and suffering. Tender Time challenges this representation and explores the vulnerabilities that characterize this point in time which is defined by perpetual planetary crisis, for instance through the Book of Regrets in which visitors of the Time Space Existence Exhibition (2023) in Venice could share their regrets—personal and global—about pasts that went wrong and futures that will never happen.

Tender Time invites us to reflect on stories and perspectives on humanity, and the interconnectedness of past, present, and future. It asks us: What image of our planet and the life on it would you send into space? What would your message be?


Article and photos by Merle Emrich.


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