Jennifer Steinkamp: 6QUEJ5 (2012)
6QUEJ5 is a recent video installation by Jennifer Steinkamp exhibited in July 2012 at Galeria Soledad Lorenzo in Madrid, Spain. Steinkamp was inspired to create this piece after watching an episode of Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking on panspermia theory, suggesting that life on Earth came from outer space by means of a collision with asteroids or meteors. She explains:
It seems there is a little something missing in this theory. I decided to make intelligent asteroids inscribed with drawings and paintings that possibly collided with the Earth as another explanation. The title 6QUEJ5 comes from a possible radio signal scanned by The Big Ear radio telescope. The telescope was scanning the heavens in an attempt to discover any possible radio signals that could be attributed to an extra-terrestrial intelligence recorded by SETI in 1974. This is the only signal SETI has discovered.
Documentation of the piece in motion can be seen here. The result is a window into outer space with a colorful field of asteroids suspended on screen, floating around and bumping into each other. Viewers are left wondering who decorated these celestial bodies and whether or not the asteroid field is an extraterrestrial experiment or if they are simply floating aimlessly.
On another note, Steinkamp has misspelled the radio recording known as the Wow! signal. Its correct spelling is 6EQUJ5. She’s also mistaken the year of discovery, which was in 1977 — not 1974. While the devil is in the details, 6QUEJ5 remains an intriguing artistic interpretation of a scientific theory that demands imagination and curiosity about human existence.
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Steinkamp (2 projections #1 and #4, 22’ x 8’).