The Destiny of the First Art Rocket


On February 1, 2021, a rocket was launched from the Jiuquan Launch Base in China. This is the 6025th space launch in the world, the 389th launch in China, and the fifth launch of a Chinese private rocket. (Data from public network platform) This rocket is named after "Xu Bing Tianshu". This article wants to share with you the motivation, function and fate of this rocket that breaks into the outer space in the name of art.


In late November 2019, I was informed that someone is coming to talk about "Art Rocket". But my first reaction was that it would not be too interesting, because I always gravitated towards the mundane around me; major themes and things with strong symbols are not easy to touch, because in front of them art appears too small. But I was curious and didn't want to give up this opportunity that I didn't dare to think about before. Mr. Yu Wende from "Wanhu Creation Company" came to the studio and brought a metal box. When it was opened, it was an exquisite rocket model, which fully demonstrated the level of space technology. He introduced the purpose of his visit: "We want to combine art with space technology and launch a 'Tianshu' rocket." I said: "There are 'Oriental Red' and 'Apollo', how can there be a rocket named after a work of art?" "He said: "It can even be named after the artist, 'Xu Bing Tianshu." I thought to myself, how can you have such great power? I dare not.


In China, there are always extraordinary beings who push China forward in their own way. Mr. Yu has a special sentiment; he has been collecting various materials related to rockets for 20 years, has a strong ideal and persistence in space culture, and his company is named after "Wanhu". Wan Hu was honored as "the world's first spaceflight person". (Note 2: This legendary man of the Ming Dynasty was the first person who thought of using firepower to fly into the sky. He tied a homemade rocket to a chair, sat on it, held two big kites in his hand, ignited and launched it, unfortunately died. To commemorate him, the International Astronomical Union named a crater on the moon after "Wanhu".) It turned out that Mr. Yu undertook the art project of the "Interstellar Glory" rocket company. "Interstellar" is the first Chinese private rocket company to put satellites into orbit. In essence, it is China's Musk, although it is far from an order of magnitude. Subsequently, several parties signed a confidentiality contract, and the launch date was set on April 25, 2020. It seems that this is already a "real thing". After that, I kept asking myself: Why should art get involved in the field of space?


I went to the United States for an exhibition in February, and was stuck in the New York studio due to the epidemic. In that limited space, facing the trivial things that can be seen every day, and the thoughts are taken to outer space by this project that is a bit far away from time to time, this is really a kind of "mind stretching" training. Rockets belong to the category of "science fiction" for me. As an artist walking on the earth, I habitually think about how to make this project more grounded. It seems that only in this way will the work be solid and in place. As the global epidemic intensifies and human beings are panicked and at a loss, I have deliberated on three concept words; I came up with a sentence: "Launch desire, crisis, and the unknown into outer space." I feel that I have begun to grasp a little reason to launch this rocket, At the same time, I also felt that I was so unimaginative.


I started reading sci-fi literature, aeronautics, and the history of space art, which I wasn't interested in in the past. There are very few materials about space art. There is a book "The History of Space Art". The first content is to express the imagination of outer space with paintings in the classical period; Established the "Space Art Project" to create works that encourage space ventures. During this period, due to the development of space technology, a large number of science fiction paintings appeared. In addition, you can find some information on the Internet to enter the stage of contemporary art and create space art with the help of outer space conditions. In order for readers to understand what this art rocket is doing, here I will first introduce the nodal works of sky art that have entered the contemporary art vision: Artists have long imagined space art, until humans first entered outer space 4 Years later, in 1965, the first work of art completed in zero gravity in outer space appeared. Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov (Alexei Leonov) during his mission on the "Vasik 2" spacecraft, he tied colored pencils to his wrist with a string, facing the observation window, and created the painting " Sunrise Track". Subsequently, astronauts from all over the world tried painting and performances under the state of flying in zero gravity with water-based paint.


In 1971, American Apollo 15 astronauts David Randolph Scott and James Benson Irwin secretly placed an 8.5 cm tall aluminum sculpture "Falling Down". Astronaut" and a monument engraved with the names of 14 people who lost their lives in space exploration were placed on the surface of the moon. This sculpture made on the surface of the earth is different from those works brought up and brought back. It only becomes meaningful when it is placed in that special place on the alien planet. Until the emergence of 3D printing technology, between 2014 and 2017, Israeli digital artist Eyal Gever collected the laughter of tens of thousands of people on the earth and converted it into digital information. He and his team developed the A software that can convert laughter into a 3D model has printed a ring-shaped sculpture with a diameter of about 10cm in outer space. He explained the piece bluntly: to transmit human optimism in a silent universe.


In 2018, truly contemporary space art works appeared. American artist Trevor Paglen has teamed up with the Nevada Museum of Art to take a shoebox-sized cube filled with reflective Mylar material into space via the SpaceX Falcon 9. This cube will automatically expand into a diamond-shaped balloon of 30 meters by 1.5 meters in a vacuum environment. Using sunlight reflection, the naked eye can appreciate the sculpture as bright as a star on the earth. Although this work lost contact after 18 days due to technical failure. But it sparked discussions about space junk, light pollution, and who has the right to put what into space; criticism focused on his sending "useless" into space, and the artist said: "The good thing about public art is its 'uselessness'." He The fight is for artists and scientists to have equal access to space. It seems to me that the discussion itself has served the purpose of this project. Sometimes art does not leave exquisite and materialized "work of art", but it touches the proposition that foretells the future. Please forgive me for being so brief, because in my opinion, what is truly called "space art" is the creation that must rely on the conditions of outer space and cannot be realized on the earth alone.


These studies have doubled my interest in the mutual intervention between art and space technology. I began to think about a problem. Western space technology and contemporary art are very developed, but space art has not developed to keep pace with space technology. Because space technology is still in its infancy; it only cares about raising children and nothing else. Art is only used to raise children, such as designing spacesuits to look better, making the cabin more humane, or promoting the space cause-all of which are technology using art. When space technology starts to serve art creation, the real era of space art will come. Sooner or later there will be such a day.


I had a hunch that there were so many possibilities in this space. With the increasing number of problems on the earth, human beings must rely on the exploration of outer space to obtain a reference to solve the crisis on the earth. As space technology is getting closer to ordinary people's life, this will surely open up more space for artistic creation. From the perspective of civilization history, changes in artistic expression are always accompanied by advances in technology and materials. Nam June Paik once said to me: "Most artists are making works, but some are making boxes; others have made works and put them in." But now it seems that we should make a more open box than a box. because boxes are still used for classifying and demarcating boundaries.


Entering April 2020, I was notified that the launch was postponed to June 25. I felt better when I first received the news of the postponement. Because of the epidemic and the instability of American society, my family members in the United States have all gathered in New York. No one knows what will happen next, and I am worried about leaving. What's more, in the past, I seldom had a normal life with my family, and I haven't stayed enough. I also need more time to refine this project better.


Thinking about it now, what is this art rocket going to do: the first, second, and third stages of the "Xu Bing Tianshu" rocket body are covered with "texts" from "Book of the Sky". After completing the propulsion task, the sub-stage arrow will separate from the load compartment and return to the ground. These "pseudo-characters" present a unique state of work in the reconstruction of natural forces such as fire push, atmospheric friction, and rocket body fall with the experience of the rocket going up into the sky; it challenges the boundaries of human ability and behavior, and will "create art" "The subject shifts from earthlings to broader space reconstruction, which reflects the unique romance of oriental people's harmony with nature when they think about space.


According to the data given by the rocket company: the first-stage rocket body will return to the "theoretical landing point", which is easy to find; the second-stage arrow may fall into the snow-capped mountains; where the third-stage arrow will fall is unknown. The studio is committed to recovering the first and second-class rocket bodies. If the second-level arrow is found, I plan to use satellite positioning to guide the real-time monitoring image of this arrow body to the exhibition hall, and juxtapose it with the first-level physical arrow, which is not bad.


We installed a 5.5cm cube "Tianshu Rubik's Cube" on the main arrow satellite. The satellite will send back real-time images of the Rubik's Cube in outer space and the sound of space. I am determined to have the sound of space transmitted back to realize the dream of "Book from Heaven". When it came out 35 years ago, someone asked if "Book from Heaven" had a pronunciation? I joked that it might be a yawn, a sneeze. Later, a pair of foreigners really read a passage from "Book from Heaven" on the Great Wall using various physiological voices of people. In fact, sound is transmitted by air flow, and there is no sound in outer space without air. The so-called sounds of outer space that were either scary or empty in the past are actually the noise of machines or electric currents. Does "Space" have a sound? I once suggested to a sound artist related to architecture to do an experiment of recording sounds in different sized spaces. The verb "to listen" belongs to human beings. Even in the silent outer space, the listener can still hear the sound of blood and organs running in the body, and it is exaggerated to say that it is the sound of cell division. Since the main body of creating "space art" is earthlings, absolute space art does not exist. This may be the meaning of finding a voiceless voice for "text without content" in the paradox. After all, extending the tentacles of art to outer space is still to solve the problems on the earth, and to explore the limitations of human beings. What is ultimately sought is a new and effective philosophy.


We sorted out and corrected thousands of "pseudo-characters", and used them on the rocket body after magnifying them dozens of times. Although this project is related to "text", I have no intention of falling on the issue of communicating with aliens. Although human beings have long been worried about what language to use to communicate with alien civilizations, this is actually a false proposition that is unfounded and worrying, because communication is only effective under the premise of the existence of some biological groups at the same time and space. If an alien civilization does appear one day, the method of communication must not be "text". What's more, when we receive the signal from an alien civilization, we don't know that it has already passed through several "civilization" cycles.


So much has been said above, but it does not clarify what this "art rocket" is. In fact, it is hard to say that it is an independent and creative contemporary artwork. Since its basic element is an idea from a work 35 years ago but placed under the new conditions of today's development in the field of space, this "idea" slides between various factors of the world's great changes in 35 years, so that this concept of an "art rocket" becomes a vacillating thing. In addition, the "named" and painted form of this rocket occupy the "new" because it is unprecedented, but this "new" does not have the uniqueness of art, and it is the same for other artists. Perhaps it was only because of certain conditions that I got this opportunity. The difficulty of defining this project seems to match the difficulty of defining "what is 'contemporary art'?". Its role may have been merely an exercise for space art, it was more of a transitional event. I hope it leaves a gene waiting and finding new soil to grow something different from the "mother".


Everything is proceeding in order. In order to approve the launch permit, the relevant departments requested the relevant materials of "Book of Heaven"; the rocket assembly was completed in Xi'an in mid-June; almost at the same time, Mr. Yao Bowen of "Interstellar" made a live broadcast entitled "Launching Love to the Center of the Universe" at station B, This very biological topic revealed the "Tianshu hao" plan to the outside world for the first time.

During the quarantine in New York, I started to network with space, blockchain, and human-computer materials scientists. We follow the "sub-satellite point" track of the target orbit of the "Tianshu" rocket, (Note 3: The sub-satellite point is the intersection point on the earth's surface of the line connecting the center of the earth and the satellite, expressed by geographic longitude and latitude. The sub-satellite point The connection line is called the sub-satellite point trajectory line.) I have made a variety of conceptual analysis diagrams with respect to the geographical location on the earth, the universe planet and other concepts; I know that these are all "pseudoscience" fabricated by the artist, but I want to use This stimulates someone in another field, thus opening up a conversation. I began to realize that the interesting thing about this project may be the tension between a group of people with underdeveloped left brains and people who may not have developed right brains. When we tell the self-drilling "theory" to scientists, they will say in a serious and respectful tone: "Art is right no matter what you say"; unintentionally pointing to a certain characteristic of "contemporary art".



Scientists must have seen what is called "contemporary art" in their spare time. I think they don't have the energy to understand why art is like this? Based on their respect for "humanities", those who speak these data also recognize that there should be some people who specialize in nonsensical things-they are "geniuses with artistic cells"; Mysterious questions make people unable to grasp their ideas and have no idea, so they admire the "artist" even more. Faced with these "scientific" questions of those who have no rigorous training, and who may only learn art because of poor academic performance in arts and sciences, it is difficult for anyone to answer.


It can be said that the progress of human civilization is promoted under the condition of the optimal ratio of the two types of thinking in the left and right brains. The left-brained people are busy with sorting and sorting, while the right-brained people are busy with disrupting the sorting. Because the gaps created are only there if the sorting is loose.


The unlimited production and inheritance of human knowledge strengthens the structure and rules of society, refines various fields to the point where it becomes increasingly difficult to cooperate, and also makes people's natural abilities lower and lower. The achievements of civilization, such as tools and modern supplies, while extending human physiological speed, strength, control and other abilities, also damage these abilities, and then find them back through sports competitions under the guidance of civilization. We actually have no way of knowing the level of the ancient "world champion". Art, however, is fortunate enough to leave behind its achievements since ancient times. From the achievements of Michelangelo and other extraordinary figures in history, we can see that the height of human civilization is sometimes marked by individual geniuses, and most of these people are not limited by field division of labor or knowledge. Here is an example related to space; in the 18th century, people envisioned life on Mars, and when considering how to communicate, the poet and inventor Charles Cros thought of building a huge mirror on the earth, It is used to focus sunlight and project it onto the surface of Mars. In the Martian desert, letters are burned out to spell out the message to be conveyed.


The content he gave was: "I'm sorry about this", what a contemporary awareness, it is really the most avant-garde "space art" created by the ancients, and even today we can't figure out the origin of his thinking. Creation in the true sense cannot be classified, or in other words, things created by people that cannot be classified can be classified as "contemporary art".


The more I get in touch with scientists, the more I return to old topics, the less I want to focus my thinking on rockets on such fashionable and grand issues as "future technology", "artificial intelligence", and "tech art". Simply, at a depressing moment when people all over the world are being forced to isolate, launch a rocket in the name of art, fly away from this problematic world, and let it go. We look for the basis for project tone positioning in the rapidly changing world scene. As a result, the plan will inevitably be continuously adjusted, changed and refocused due to the influence of various factors. It can be said that the artistic part was not yet in place at that time, so it was easily influenced by external variables.


The "Tianshuhao" approval document has finally come down, and this time it is real. Entering September, my daughter starts school and is going back to school, so it's time for me to go back to China to do my business. But at that time, due to the rivalry between China and the United States, almost all air routes were cut off, and air tickets were constantly being cancelled. It became more and more difficult to return to China. Looking at this situation, it might really be impossible to go back. Both Beijing and I were anxious about air tickets. I started thinking about the possibility of having a remotely controlled robotic arm instead of me pressing the fire button, that would be pretty cool too.


At this time, I received a WeChat message from Tian Pujun, she said that she had built a "Noah Airplane" and brought more friends if she could, and asked me to go with them. I am ashamed to bother others, but she said that there are still seats, and there are still vacant seats. I said, "Is Wang Shi also on the plane?" She said, "Yes, it would be nice to have someone to chat with on the way."

Finally returned to the motherland. The plan is to go straight to Jiuquan after the quarantine and launch the next day, no more a day and no less. Another notice came during the quarantine, and the launch was pushed to late November. The reason is that the "Chang'e-5" was launched in mid-November, and after the launch, it will be the "Tianshu". "Chang'e" was launched successfully. Then, due to unexplainable reasons, the launch was pushed back to January 20th, which is the root of the Chinese New Year. At this time, I am used to the delay. If the notification is really going to be launched one day, I will definitely think it is a dream. Immediately afterwards, the launch was postponed for another week: at 16:00 on the 27th, this time there is a specific time point, which is a good signal.


The assembled rocket has been shipped to Jiuquan...

Jiuquan is the earliest satellite launch site in my country, and all important launches in the history of our country were completed here. Thousands of people watch each launch, just like a grand ceremony. Naturally, we also want to make a big deal, who button, guest activities, Gobi Forum, live broadcast, etc. We were dissatisfied with the camouflage canvas tent. Sun Hua, director of publicity and distribution, designed a transparent inflatable tent plan. As soon as the renderings came out, it looked like an artistic rocket launch. The rolling sand and stones on the Gobi Desert have polished the surface of black stone bones and transparent semicircular spheres, which really feels like camping on an alien planet.


On December 18, I was asked again to provide "evidence that the 'Book of Heaven' has no content", so I could only submit a more detailed document of "Book of Heaven"; this work has entered several European and American "World Art History Textbooks"; , I am very happy that the content of "Book of Heaven" is included in the review questions for the international AP college entrance examination preparation, which shows that it has become the knowledge that citizens need to know before receiving college education. Of course, it should be added that it was exhibited in the National Art Museum of China for the first time and was used as the content of the nine-year compulsory art textbook in China, because only Western materials do not explain the problem. But in the end I found that things with "content" are easy to prove, but "without content" can never be proved.


In mid-January, I was notified again that the previous certificates for me and "Book from Heaven" were not acceptable, and they had to be certificates issued by the Party Committee of the Academy of Fine Arts. It is said that the work of "Front" has been suspended and can only be restarted after receiving a new certification letter. It is not ruled out that the scriptures on the rocket body may be painted in white. It was Friday, and it was a long weekend. Fortunately, all the people from Central America helped me. Seeing that the circle of red stamps was almost finished, I was busy in a strange circle, because it was necessary for the party committee to issue a political review letter for a work of art. unprecedented. I have never approached the secretary for personal matters, so I can only make an exception this time; the party committee is being held on the other end of the voice, and a topic has been added temporarily to discuss how to open this letter. Using the standard format of the Central United States political review, a political review was made for me and "Book of Heaven", which read: "...I have no criminal record or behavior in violation of laws and disciplines, and have never joined "Falun Gong" and other cult organizations, and have not found any Political and historical issues. Xu Bing is an internationally renowned artist, and "Book from Heaven" is his representative work, which does not involve political issues. Xu Bing himself has the final right to interpret the work. Hereby explain." Since then, I have a legal identity with "Book from Heaven". Send it to the front as soon as possible.


A launch time was finalized: February 1 at 4:00 pm. But only Xu Bing and the two photographers were allowed to enter the scene, and the bubble house can still be built on the scene, which means that only I entered the scene to press the launch button and use 6 bubble houses.

We immediately imagined a new plan, and the more we thought about it, the more excited we became...; several bubble houses appeared on the empty "planet"... One was wearing a white inflatable suit (actually a white down jacket) and an N95 A humanoid animal with a mask and goggles, wandering between the bubble houses... accidentally saw a button station, pressed one of them... a miracle happened! There was a loud bang, and a rocket rose into the sky.... This scene is super cool, the best of the several options! This surreal scene actually launched a real rocket. This is where? Is it the earth? Where did all the creatures go? Is this white mobile a survivor? Or where did you immigrate here...? After completing the launch, leaving the restricted area, and returning to the vast rural scene where my ancestors struggled to survive for generations... This kind of reversal is exactly what I want. At this point, the reason for launching this artistic rocket is in place.


On January 28, I set off for Jiuquan and landed in Jiayuguan. The pick-up person was a local who seemed very capable. She picked us up and went straight to the launch site, because it was still a 6-hour drive. According to the requirements, I need to be quarantined for three days after entering the field, and I will be released as soon as possible. When the car drove more than ten kilometers away, I was notified again that Xu Bing had another nucleic acid test in Jiayuguan. The driver immediately turned around and headed for the Jiayuguan nucleic acid station. In order to wait for the result, I lived in Jiayuguan that day.

On the second day, I went back on the road and watched the scenery of the northwest fly backwards, the faster the flight, the better. When it was cool, I received another notice: Due to the epidemic, an emergency order was issued overnight, and all units will be closed and isolated from the outside world from now on. It means: the artist will not be able to enter the launch site when he arrives. My first thought was: that cool "Lonely Ignition" project can't be implemented, what a pity!

That night, he joined the advance team and lived in a satellite town next to the base.


So far, the more than 60 people present can only watch from the sidelines, and the viewing point has been pushed from the original 3 kilometers to 5 kilometers away. Before the launch, the team needed to reconfirm the viewing point. From here, looking into the base, there was indeed a rocket standing there, but the words "Xu Bingtian Book Number" were wrapped in a layer of something. We asked the rocket company, and the answer was: "That's a heat shield, and it can be removed if the temperature reaches 5 degrees or more during launch." The next day when the temperature got warmer, out of consideration for the shooting effect, the studio once again asked to remove the insulation cover, and the answer was: "After take-off, the momentum will push the insulation cover away, no problem." The temperature rose to 15 degrees on the launch day, and the studio has been urging: "The current conditions can completely remove the insulation cover." I even suggested from the experience of artistic creation: "Everything should be simple, and one more material means one more uncertainty."  In the end, the artist's request was not accepted.


On February 1, 2021, the steamed stuffed bun eaten at noon on the launch day must be a legacy of a successful launch, just like the JPL Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States, which eats peanuts during launch. At 1:00 p.m., the large troops set off. Before the car had driven far, it was learned that the road ahead was under martial law and it was impossible to reach the viewing point.

The long convoy was waiting to be released, and everyone was asked not to get out of the car. I counted the time second by second, and my small eyes were wide open, staring at the rocket as small as a matchstick. Until 4:15, the "match" was finally lit, and the fire ball became bigger, and something rose from the smoke ball, bringing out a white smoke, which was inserted into the atmosphere longer and longer, showing a spectacular scene; because It is too far away to hear the sound at all, like watching a silent film that has been colored, and I am also "silently" excited in my heart. After a while, the white smoke turned into an auspicious cloud, which was even more auspicious. I sent a few words to my friend: "Launched! It's a success!" At this moment, someone called out, look! Everyone turned around, only to see a cloud of smoke rising in the distance, thinking that the first-level arrow had finished pushing and returned to the theoretical landing point. The puff rose higher and higher, turning into a huge mushroom cloud.


The team immediately drove to the landing point, and from time to time on the way, they received reports that the rocket failed after it took off. Generally speaking, after 10 minutes of launch, if there is no signal from the satellite, it means that the launch has failed. Ten minutes later, I had to face up to the result.

Entering the desert, the convoy identified its direction according to the rut marks left by the previous detection points, bumping east and west several times, but nothing seemed to have happened here, and the camera team guarding the landing point was nowhere to be seen. There's no cell phone reception here, my concern is they don't know what's going on, don't be surprised. Where is the position of the mushroom cloud? Seeing that the sky was getting dark, the convoy had no choice but to go back to the place where there was a signal. Everyone clutches their phones, waiting for a signal to appear. Someone yelled, "There is a signal!" But it was cut off as soon as it was connected, but I could hear the voice of the photography team Yang Yanyuan, don't worry! The signal came and went, and it was finally learned that the photography team was already with the first-stage rocket body 2 kilometers away.


The falling arrow body has been alerted, and no one made a sound except for the sound of a generator car. It was the first time I had seen it up close, and it lay there like a wounded, behemoth awaiting treatment, and it was so beautiful. At this point, the first phase of the arrow-hunting mission is complete. We still follow the original plan, judging the relationship between the direction of sunrise and the position of the falling rocket body, and building a bubble house; we will not forget the aesthetic feeling at all times... light a bonfire... wait for the moment when the sun rises from behind the rocket body.

Everyone gathered around the bonfire all night, broke naan bread, drank mutton soup, and said some things that I didn't know how to say. Someone said: "Technology has failed, but art has succeeded." It is a comforting word when you hear it. Only the photography team said some happy things: "It's a little scary to think about the whole process of the first-level arrow coming down." Everyone asked me to say a few words, but my mind was blank. The team members have worked hard for more than a year, what can I say? What if I receive the image of the "Tianshu Rubik's Cube" in outer space at this time? The news reports that the first art rocket has successfully entered orbit... so what will happen to the bonfire party at this time? I squeezed out a few confused words: "Science is a bit unreliable, but the fire in front of me is reliable. Humans can give us heat when they need it." Then I added: "Alas! Rockets also rely on the energy of fire ?"


The sun rose, and there was a search vehicle in the distance. We passed by, and an amazing landscape appeared; a huge crater with a diameter of nearly 28 meters, like a lunar crater, with it as the center, surrounded by endless, by "Star point" composed of white powder. what is this? Whose "Land Art" is it?

In the next few days, apart from looking for the wreckage, everyone's excitement was discussing what happened to the crater. I'm going to submit an analysis report from an amateur perspective and see how much my intuition is right.

We found fragments with strokes of "Book of Heaven" near the first-level arrow body, which can explain the damaged parts; two pieces of gold leaf were found around the crater, and gold leaf was only used near the "Book of Heaven Rubik's Cube" in the fourth-level arrow. We speculate that the second, third, and fourth-stage rocket bodies were all inserted into the desert, and the remaining fuel released a huge amount of energy underground, blowing the rocket body into pieces and spraying it out, scattered to a radius of several kilometers.


After the Spring Festival, we finally waited for the "SQX-1 Y2-Xu Bingtian ISBN" flight fault reset review meeting. (Note 4: "Return to zero" is a term used in the aerospace industry, which means that once an accident occurs, it must be checked from zero until the problem is completely cleared up.) I was not in Beijing that day, and Yu Wende and Xu Yan from the studio attended as representatives of relevant parties . The meeting broadcasted multi-angle video recordings, and the camera that came with the rocket body showed the moment of launch; under the huge roar of flame jets, the shocking scene of pushing the "Script from Heaven" away from the earth. After the broadcast, the review team commented on the accident report, and the conclusions are as follows:

The flight fault of the SQX-1 Y2 rocket was located in the fact that a piece of insulation foam that should have fallen off fell on the IV (No. 4) grid rudder, which caused the IV grid rudder to stall under the action of aerodynamic pressure, and the foam was in the follow-up During the flight, the IV grid rudder was blown off again. After the IV grid rudder resumed the tracking command of the control system, the rudder deflection angle completed a deflection of more than 30 degrees in a short period of time, causing a sudden change in the attitude of the rocket body, which led to the failure of the flight test. (Note 5: Excerpted from "Hypercurve No. 1 and Yao No. 2 Launch Vehicle Faults Completed and Returned to Zero" published by Interstellar Corporation on the Internet.)


After the expert review, Peng Xiaobo, the president of Interstellar, first asked: "What does Xu Bing's studio representative have to say?" Under such circumstances, the people in the studio really didn't know what to say. If I were there, I might say: it is already a step forward to have art representatives participate in this kind of meeting. It was a technical failure this time, but your pioneering practice of advancing contemporary art and space technology in parallel is remarkable, and this will be shown over time.

Mr. Peng participated in the design and development of the Long March series when he was in the "national team", and participated in projects such as my country's lunar exploration project. He has participated in more than 20 launches, and this is the first loss he has experienced. After the meeting, Mr. Peng said to the representative of the studio: "We apologize to Mr. Xu Bing. We did not succeed, and we will continue to work hard." Mr. Peng's eyes became moist as he spoke. Indeed, the earliest private rocket company was too difficult among multiple forces.


The expert said: "Under the momentum of the rocket, there is only a one-ten-thousandth probability that the scattered insulation material will fall on the grid rudder, which is harder than winning the lottery." It’s fine if the arrow is separated from the main body.” These hypothetical regrets are not worthy of being included in the zeroing report. The report is marked with the words "Ten Years". I think that even after hundreds of years, the mystery of "winning the lottery" will be unsolvable. The thousand-year history of science and technology is too short compared to the history of the precise evolution from ancient organisms to Homo sapiens. Although the technological capabilities of human beings are growing fissionally, the progress of science and technology has led confident human beings into misunderstandings; we believe that science can Figure out what went wrong; the world is finally computable, representable by numbers or formulas. But the incalculable elements hidden in the event chain: environmental changes, time coincidences, cultural factors, emotional fluctuations, etc., all affect the outcome of the event. From Newton to Einstein, simply put, they recognized the nature of entanglement in the "distorted space-time of matter"; the philosophy of "abnormality is normality".


Imagine if this time, if it wasn't because before the launch, I was still worried about the words "so similar to Chinese characters but no content" on the rocket body, and asked someone to check it line by line word by line and postpone the launch; it would not have caught up with the temperature change; There is no such thing as a thermal cover; the source of the hidden danger will not be exposed. Hidden dangers are reflected in the data, but the real reason comes from unclear calculations. One of the functions of art is to inject uncountable elements into the calculable, reminding people of the part that exists beyond knowledge. The real failure is not the lack of technology, but the failure of lack of understanding.


It is unbelievable: 18 years ago, the defeat of the US "Columbia" was also on February 1. What is the connection between this? Can you figure it out? What's even more incredible is that the direct cause of these two defeats was also the same, both of which were on the heat preservation cover. The US Accident Investigation Board did not disclose the cause of the failure until three years ago: a piece of insulating foam fell off the surface of the external fuel tank during launch and hit the left wing, damaging the carbon insulation. When the flying plane returned to the earth and entered the atmosphere, the temperature of 1400 degrees rushed into the plane from the damaged part, causing tragedy and killing 7 astronauts. NASA structural engineer Rodney Rocha (Rodney Rocha) judged in advance that there might be hidden dangers, and proposed inspection and repair plans to the superior twice, but Rocha's request was not adopted.

This is the article where I use the most "?", I think it is because we have broken into a strange field; it seems to have fallen into a black hole that has lost the fulcrum of judgment, and also fallen into a close entanglement with the social scene . It seems that the controllable parts of things are wrapped in dark matter, which prohibits you from continuing to use poor old knowledge and subjective and arbitrary identification methods, which is very different from fiddling with a work in a studio.


Going back to the question I asked myself at the beginning of the project; why should contemporary art get involved in the field of space? It is necessary to analyze the relationship between politics and space science and technology first, because in the relationship between space science and technology and other fields of mutual utilization, politics is greater than everything else, and it is involved before art; war is the manifestation of politics, which makes the earliest Space technology has become a by-product of war. In fact, the first human space vehicles were the Nazi V-2 rockets. After the war, the United States and the Soviet Union introduced German prisoners of war scientists to develop rockets, and the politically driven space race began. Now the competition has entered a new stage, and outer space has become the platform for the most powerful military forces to compete. In 2001, the United States withdrew from the "Anti-Ballistic Treaty" (a treaty prohibiting the use of permanent and reversible means in space); in 2006, it voted against the United Nations "banning all space weapons". In order to maintain their superiority in space, countries are deepening anti-satellite experiments; as I am writing this article, two marine meteorological satellites have disintegrated in space orbit within 10 days, and the reasons for the disintegration are unknown.


Science and technology is an uninterrupted investigation of the uniqueness of natural laws, and its absoluteness is not attached to social ideology, while art is the reflection form of social ideology, and the autonomous part of art is always attached to the content of ideology. Of course, in history there is often a gap between the nature of ideology and the quality of art, but "art" that is absolutely free from ideology does not exist, otherwise it will be transformed into the category of science. This is the essential difference between science and technology and art, and what both have in common is that they both advocate independent and free exploration, but it is difficult for them to escape the fate of being used by politics. In this kind of entanglement, politics plays the role of catalyst or inhibitor for the development of the two.


In this relationship, how should we consider what can emerge from the mutual implantation of art and rocket technology? Unfamiliar two-way mutual viewing can see things that cannot be seen in one-way. From the perspective of science or sociology, "Book from Heaven" is equivalent to "ghost painting symbols", but it also points to the inductiveness of art and poetry's natural witchcraft. That's why some people say: use art to see what science can't see, and vice versa. In fact, the fate and function of this art rocket highlights that contemporary art and a field with its own strict logic are inserted alternatively, and stir up things that have no chance to emerge. In fact, the challenges in each field come from how to use and deal with the balance broken by the intrusion of other fields.


This project, which cannot be called a work, seems to have opened up a new thinking space for me. Take the "crater" as an example. It is almost impossible to manufacture such a piece of land art by planning and construction, but an ideal piece of land art has appeared. It is not arranged, does not match the original intention of the artist, nor is it the result of man-made competition with the earth. The urinal of Duchamp's "Fountain" was produced by arrangement, and the artist's selection of it was premeditated. This "Crater Mountain" is different from "ready-made art" or "occasional art" in that the latter two are art planned to happen "accidentally", while the former is art that appeared first and was "identified". Could there be a category for "art of claim" or "art of encounter"? This goes back to old topics such as "what is art?" "source of art?" "who has the right to identify art?" The erratic art phenomenon that is happening now cannot be defined by the taxonomy of art history in the past. Sometimes non-art projects turn out to be "more art". Contemporary art exists by continuously correcting its own way of functioning in the process of civilization. It is a "variable" in itself, like magnetic powder showing new patterns with the movement of the magnet. As man's ability to calculate and plan has grown, so has the need for the opposite of this ability, and art often serves that role.


Before the end of the article, I want to go back to: "Technology failed, art succeeded." This sentence came up because I didn't have the opportunity to think about this question before: Has art failed? If "failure" means that the work has no effect, then what is "effect"? It looks good, the author is satisfied, the material technology has been innovated, the price has gone up, and new problems have been caused? … Whichever comes down to feedback on outcomes, and all feedback is socially conscious feedback. In other words, a work is successful if it evokes new perceptions (ideological leanings and moral parameters are temporarily abandoned here). And every failure of scientific experiment results will verify the problem and start a new direction of thinking. It can be said that this result is exactly what art is looking for. Art creates "no right or wrong" and takes people to a new place; science achieves the same purpose through "error correction". When Duchamp faced the "Large Glass" which took him 8 years to complete but was broken during transportation, he said: "The more I look at it, the more I like the way these cracks are produced. It seems to have a kind of intention." The transportation technology is undoubtedly a failure Yes, but the ideological horizon has been enriched by "de-manipulation".


The coincidence of "February 1" separated by 18 years cannot be controlled by human beings, and the unknown hidden in it carries eternal revelation.

Now, what was supposed to happen happened. This well-conceived "script" has never stopped adding stories for more than a year and has been constantly rewritten. In 0.3 seconds, it changed from an extremely realistic style to a surreal or allegorical style. The project team is extremely serious about achieving an attainable goal, but the result suddenly turns, so we have to use our romantic imagination to clean up the result. In fact, we are not afraid of facing the "endgame" and are good at cleaning up the "endgame". This has almost become a part of our tradition. In our cultural genes, we have enough repair ability, know how to find out from the "imperfection" what is not available in the "perfect ending", and try to use it well. Trial and error and fixing is progress.

April , 2021 Xu Bing