Beyond the Beyond - Wired

Bruce Sterling, January 2013

The International Space Orchestra: the Feature Film

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Words by Bruce Sterling

*Your chance to see me rusticating in the Balkan mountains with a week’s worth of beard and a fur hat.

Join the International Space Orchestra – an assembly of star-spangled space scientists from NASA Ames Research Center and SETI Institute-in the adventure of performing a unique drama of non-terrestrial communication and the techno-wonders of mission control rooms. Music by an all-star team of collaborators including Damon Albarn with Bobby Womack, Arthur Jeffes (Penguin Café), Maywa Denki and Bruce Sterling.

Experience the surrealism of this production merging science, technology, design and opera, this film captures all the behind-the-scenes action during the creation of the International Space Orchestra.

 Space Scientists of NASA Ames Research Center and SETI Institute believe that understanding the crucial and elemental necessity of embracing both music and science will enable us to endure and thrive on our journey into space.
Inspired by our desire to understand the universe, and to rocket-propel our souls to further galaxies, the International Space Orchestra – is coming together to reach the final frontier! 
In this tangential reality, your Flight Controller conducts arias and the Payload Officer works a baritone sax, while the Capsule Communicator plays the triangle. 
The International Space Orchestra, directed and created by Nelly Ben Hayoun, is an experiential and hybrid research laboratory, where space scientists have been invited to implement, deconstruct, perform, sing, mix, modify, and design musical acts in control rooms. It is a provocation to action: a call to imagine and disrupt future human relations to science; to adapt science to our creative needs.
The project’s mission is to draw attention to space science at the most monumental time in its history. An exciting new era of private space travel and exploration is underway, fuelled by commercial space companies such as Virgin Galactic, Space X and Google, and projects such as near-earth asteroid mining and reaching Mars are back on the agenda.
‘Music washes from the soul the dust of everyday life. Much as science washes away the fallacies of how the world was formed and sustains itself… Good luck in your cosmic endeavours and may you truly make the music of the spheres.’
John W Boyd Senior Advisor to the Center Director of NASA Ames, the Senior Advisor for History and the Center Ombuds, letter to Nelly Ben Hayoun, August 13th, 2012
‘Music, like the science of space, is a universal language written in the stars and shared by global hearts united in passion for song!’
Yvonne Cagle, M.D., NASA Astronaut, and International Space Orchestra percussionist, August 2012