Guest blog and artworks by Harsha Biswajit, Co- founder of BISKIT.
BISKIT's journey into exploring SPACE as our first concept began with a pivotal moment in 2017, when India's space prowess garnered global attention through ISO's record breaking "PSLV-37" mission. From NewYork, we observed the enduring universal and cultural force of SPACE as the media's spotlight focused keenly on this unprecedented feat. This experience, coupled with our realisation of the limited awareness of India's space history, sparked BISKIT's passion to explore SPACE from a fresh and distinct perspective.
As ISO's Chandrayaan 3 achieves what no other mission has accomplished before - conquering the uncharted frontiers of the high latitude, near polar region of the Moon, four artworks from our "SPACED OUT" concept pay homage to India's space odyssey. Each piece captures the essence of different space missions, evoking the allure of interstellar migration and inspiring us to uncover the captivating narrative of India's cosmic journey.
Just as India transitions from followers to leaders in space exploration, BISKIT celebrates this evolution, underscoring ISO's remarkable trajectory and its vital role in shaping the future of space exploration.
The allure of SPACE, it seems, lies not only in its scientific mysteries but also in its symbolic resonance.
It represents the ultimate frontier, an expanse upon which humanity projects its boldest dreams and aspirations. It symbolizes our innate yearning for discovery that has driven us to explore the unknown on Earth and now propels us toward the stars. Growing up with a constant stream of NASA's historical achievements portrayed in popular culture, I found myself wondering why my awareness of my own nation's space history was comparatively limited. This realization inspired us at BISKIT to delve into SPACE exploration from a fresh and distinct perspective, seeking to uncover the lesser-known facets of India's space history.
As ISRO's Chandrayaan 3 achieves what no other mission has accomplished before - conquering the uncharted frontiers of the high latitude, near polar region of the Moon (near the Moon's South Pole), I felt it was the right time to reflect on India's voyage into the cosmic realm through the lens of four artworks I created for our first concept, SPACED OUI. Each piece is a visual manifestation and celebration of one of India's space missions whose stories sparked our imagination and acted as triggers to explore the concept of SPACE and a world on the brink of interstellar migration.
Artwork # 1 - View of Mars / Aryabhatta
This work uses an image of Mars captured during ISRO's historic maiden mission to the Red Planet in 2013/14 (explored later in the essay) and juxtaposes it with the Aryabhatta, India's first unmanned Earth satellite built in 1975. This piece simultaneously reflects two moments in time, acting as reminder of the distance the Indian Space Program has travelled since its first mission.
Artwork # 2 - ISRO 1984
This work brings together ISRO - Indian Space Research Organization - and 1984 - to mark the year India sent its first astronaut into space. The circular features of the eyes, nose, and mouth are taken from a portrait of Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to travel to space.
Artwork # 3 - ISRO MOM
This work is a play on how the media covered the Mars mission. The phrase, "MOM SUCCESSFULLY ENTERS MARTIAN ORBIT" is taken from a direct press quote made in 2014.
Artwork # 4 - Wake up You Sleepy
Head, We Have Landed on the Moon This work represents an abstract portrait of Rakesh Sharma in space with the geometric forms in the background representing floating pieces of space debris. It imagines India's first Astronaut, looking back at Earth from the expanse of space announcing our arrival on the moon.
In tracing the trajectory of India's space program, from its humble beginnings to its current status as a pioneer in the global space arena, we find ourselves marvelling at the journey it has undertaken. ISO's evolution from limited capabilities to spearheading bold and ambitious missions alongside the world's foremost space-faring nations is nothing short of awe-inspiring. It feels we have come full circle in India's space odyssey - one that has seen us transition from followers to leaders.
The landscape of space exploration has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, marking a departure from the past, when agencies like NASA largely stood at the vanguard of space exploration. The future is likely to be a dynamic blend of government-led missions, private ventures and global cooperation. Just as the maritime explorers of the Age of Discovery reshaped the course of human history, our exploration beyond Earth holds the potential to reshape the destiny of our species. While the specifics of how this will play out remain uncertain, what is clear is the importance of India's continued presence at the forefront of this new age.
Learning from past human behaviour, we must strive for responsible and collaborative exploration to ensure that space remains a realm of common global good, benefiting all nations and generations to come.