In this project, I am investigating the reasons why various people would not want to travel to Mars and make it their home. The Mars One foundation, a Dutch initiative to establish permanent human settlements on Mars, sought applications from people ready for a one-way journey to the planet. Their responses to interview questions clearly demonstrated willingness to leave planet Earth forever. The Mars One committee members are supposed to decide which applicants will proceed to subsequent selection rounds based on their motivations and interviews. As it turns out, the majority of applicants have been providing the same answers. So what is the essence of their motivations? Why have these people become so concerned with leaving Earth?
After asking myself these questions, I quickly realized that in fact, I actually don’t want to go to Mars. In a way, it was an epiphany, as since the first USSR cosmonaut went into space, space travel has become a dream for Russian kids, including myself. But why would anybody actually want to become a cosmonaut? And why, as space travel finally becomes more available, am I rejecting such opportunities?
In an attempt to examine my own response to the original question, I have asked the opposite: Why do you not want to go to Mars? I have initially approached these questions through interviews with young people of different international backgrounds. However different the interviewees’ backgrounds were, and however sincere and personal the answers, the experiment has demonstrated certain recurring elements: themes or particular words. The interviews have eventually merged into one – a reflection of some universal human values.
The video installation “Mars 116” is composed of 116 iPhone images which form a daydream-like meditation stream. The number of pictures corresponds with the number of images from The Voyager Golden Records, that were included aboard the Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. Those 116 iPhone snapshots are my own visual answer to the question Why do you not want to go to Mars? The stream of images is accompanied by a multilingual voice over of excepts from interviews I conducted. No other narration, no hierarchy, is present in the video; just images observing daily routines.