Week 3

In our lecture we were introduced to many films and artists’ work revolving around the theme of journey. Particularly interesting was the 1996 film Gallivant by Andrew Kotting. I have yet to watch the film in its entirety, but I did watch Lek and the Dogs. The films of Kotting are undeniably interesting, strange, sometimes funny and striking visually. There is something eerie about seaside towns, especially run-down ones in the U.K. The uniformity of the holiday lodges and lingering shots of scenery really stayed with me.

We also watched A Trip to the Moon – the 1902 Science Fiction Film by Georges Méliès. Although many of the images from the film are iconic and often used when talking about influential films, I had never watched it in its entirety. I’d also never realised how much inspiration Nick Park and Arman Animation’s Wallace and Gromit – A Grand Day Out took from the film (apologies if now the Wallace and Gromit theme is stuck in your head). We also watched Escape Vehicle Number 6 by Simon Faithful which involved a chair being sent into space. There was something quietly mesmerising about this, even drama in parts (as the chair broke apart and lost a leg at one point). We were encouraged to cover the walls with our impressions of the lecture as usual. I always enjoy seeing what people have absorbed as the room becomes covered in drawings and words. But I found myself making a model train out of the white tack instead. This wasn’t an attempt to be contrarian, its just what I felt like doing. It helped me not focus on my cough either (70+ covid negative covid tests and I still feel I have flu half the time grrr!).

The idea of journeying to space got me thinking about the multi billionaire Jeff Bezos recent excursion. I never really understood Bezos’ wealth, as far as I can tell his great innovation amounts to him putting the Argos catalogue on the internet. As a stunt, Bezos brought William Shatner – the original Star Trek captain with him aboard the 60ft Blue Origin rocket. William Shatner of course almost married singer, songwriter Stevie Nicks in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the marriage fell though as she didn’t want to be known as Stevie Shatner-Nicks.

I could grumble about how wasteful and vain billionaires’ obsession with space tourism/exploration is, but perhaps there are benefits in terms of technological innovation I am not informed enough to appreciate. There are easy jokes about billionaires escaping into space to avoid the guillotine in some future violent revolution too. What stood out to me about Amazon in recent years is that their delivery drivers were so pressured by impossible workloads and insecure work they were found to have been urinating in bottles in order to keep to their delivery times. Having worked as a delivery driver myself I can testify the job is stressful enough without not being paid an hourly wage or having to relieve yourself in the cab.

https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-drivers-say-peeing-in-bottles-common-despite-company-denials-2021-3?r=US&IR=T

This got me thinking about ideas for a project:

Could I send a bottle of piss into space?

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-license-under-the-outer-space-act-1986

Either by rocket or weather balloon there are inspections of both payload and launch site. Not to mention the cost and difficulties in retrieval. I wouldn’t want to lose one of the Art School’s go pro cameras or spend 6 months of paperwork in an attempt at a silly protest. I will enquire with some students in the sciences of the practicalities. My main concern is being put of some sort of watchlist by trying to get hold of rocket fuel.

Could urine be used as fuel to power a rocket?

Whilst urine and wastewater contain organic carbon that can be used to generate electricity, it is doubtful that would be enough to reach orbit.

https://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/uwenews/news.aspx?id=3882

“A microbial fuel cell is formed of two half-cells, each with electrodes inside. One of the two half-cells is inoculated with live bacteria collected from the natural environment. The bacteria grow and maintain themselves on the electrode, using it as an anaerobic respirator.”

Could we just hurl them over the fence of the nearest Amazon warehouse?

No. That would only hurt the low paid cleaner more than it would any billionaire.

The search for a good idea of a ‘journey’ based project continues….

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