Space Junkies at Ars Electronica 2023

September 2023

Marie-Pier Boucher, Alice Jarry and Guillaume Pascale present Space Junkies at Ars Electronica. The work was part of the Imprint exhibition, organized by Hexagram
What kinds of adaptation and accommodation of space technology can render visible the need for a redistribution of capital, land, resources, and social power? 36,500 objects larger than 10 cm, 1 million objects between 1-10 cm, and 130 million objects between 1 mm to 1 cm are estimated to be orbiting in space (ESA, 2023). Meanwhile in 2020, the International Astronautical Congress (IAC, Paris) showcased 174 space agencies, programs, and businesses from around the world whose boots offered international visitors hundreds of goodies under the form of stickers, tote bags, pamphlets, stress balls, car fresheners, space food, water bottles, key chains, t-shirts, etc. Attending to these terrestrial and spatial hoarding processes, Space Junkies is a video juxtaposing material remnants accumulated at the IAC (2022), open source footage, data visualisation of space debris, and satellite views of space infrastructures located in remote locations (e.g. space X, Blue Origin, NASA, Japan Space Agency, etc).


Alternating between rapid succession of images and contemplative shots of isolated places, the video presents space debris and space goodies as “non-human entities and machinic ecologies that archive their complex interactions with the world” (Schuppli, 2020) and that act as ‘’material witnesses’’ (ibid) of space exploration . Envisioned as a  ‘’technique of witnessing’’ paralleling capital and material accumulation, Space Junkies bears on the ecological and environmental concerns brought by space infrastructures of telecommunication and reassembles “forensically decoded” (ibid) goodies and debris into a continuing cacophony that is multifaceted, layered, privatized, and (re)commodified.

Critical Practices in
Materials and Materiality