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By Framd | 10 April 2019

Trump Thwarted Space Installation


It turns out that Trump can be a bit of a nuisance for artists as well as everyone else on the planet. The government shutdown in December 2018 had one unintended consequence which was, quite literally, out of this world.


The Orbital Reflector

The Orbital Reflector - 

Trevor Paglen, the American artist, sent a sculpture into space in December 2018. It was intended to expand out, allowing us ants to be able to gaze up and see his work from earth, pretty bold stuff if you ask me. The installation was called the "Orbital Reflector" and measured, once deployed, 100ft in length. Interestingly the design appears to have drawn inspiration from Superman II's depiction of the Phantom Zone (see below).


Zod being sentenced to the phantom zone - Superman 2

Superman's Phantom Zone


Part one of this endeavour went according to plan being, successfully blasted off on the 3rd of December 2018. However, once in space, Trump's government shut down meant the necessary permissions were delayed for 35 days leading the Paglen team to lose "the ability to tell the sculpture to deploy". In short, the sun fried it a bit like Icarus's wings.


So was this just an unintended consequence of the government shut down? I expect we'll never know, but Framd sees two other potential reasons for it:


  1. Had Trump surmised that this "Orbital Reflector" was the art world trying to banish him to the Phantom Zone just like General Zod was in Superman II.
  2. Or; was it an elaborate insurance scam (Which let's give credit where credit is due, the art world does quite well). If this were the case, surely this would trump the lot of them, costing $1.5m & well, being in space and all.


Paglen, photographed in Berlin with a 3D model of his Orbital Reflector satellite. CreditJanina Wick
A worried looking Paglen,
photographed in Berlin.
Credit Janina Wick
Image: © Altman Siegel Gallery/Metro Pictures)
Image: © Altman Siegel
Gallery/Metro Pictures)




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