An artwork created onboard the International Space Station utilizes cosmic radiation, artificial intelligence technology and blockchain technology to question the capitalistic dynamics of space exploration.
Who has the power to access space and all of its resources? How do we as a society define how space can and should be used? And how might human actions in space be able to transform the quality of life of all of humanity, instead of serving as more wealth for the few?
Celestium is the first AI and blockchain artwork of its kind to operate from space, as it orbits the Earth aboard NASA’s part of the International Space Station (ISS). The artwork, which takes the form of a hybrid AI-Blockchain algorithm, uses data from the cosmic radiation that it experiences aboard the ISS, to create a series of digital tokens and AI generated-space images.
The work has been created to challenge the capitalist power dynamics we see in the modern space era; as with few restrictions, the untapped haven of celestial resources beyond the limits of this planet is rapidly becoming a proverbial wild west of the cosmos, for the rich and powerful to exploit for their personal economic gain. Today, the exploration of space has been designated as the “province of all mankind”, and its colonization has been prohibited under the International Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Yet despite this, and the fact that the development of outer space has significant implications for all of Earth's inhabitants, only a small cadre of individuals, companies, and governments are involved in its exploration. The severe lack of strict regulation, coupled with our prioritization of open access over equal distribution, has led to the establishment of a new form of international space race, where private corporations are working tirelessly to gain the capability of harvesting near earth asteroids with resources valued in the trillions of dollars.
As an artistic speculation into the democratization and decentralization of outer space, upon entering the artwork’s interactive web platform you will be confronted with an interactive canvas of 1000 by 1000 pixels where you are invited to contribute your take on the human condition to a collaborative image that will be sent into space. As a reward for your contribution you will receive Celestium tokens generated from space. You can then use these tokens in exchange for real asteroids that orbit our solar system. Each of the near-earth asteroids, numbering over 600,000, are rendered within the platform’s Asteroid Database, along with an accompanying visualization generated by the AI algorithm, from space radiation harvested aboard the ISS. The AI component of the algorithm itself is a generative adversarial network (GAN), trained on thousands of images of existing planets, stars, and nebulas across the cosmos, which it uses to generate images of its own unique celestial objects. You are able to exchange your Celestium tokens in order to acquire an asteroid and its accompanying AI generated image, in the form of an NFT. Along with any exchange, you will also be allocated a piece of space debris equivalent to the amount that would be produced in the asteroids harvesting in order to raise awareness of the shared responsibility of the sustainable disposal of generated waste products in space.
The artwork itself is embedded within the Celestium blockchain abroad the International Space Station. At the end of its time aboard the ISS, the blockchain will live on, embodying the transactions exchanged and the imagery generated by the collective of mankind.
Celestium is an experimentation into the need for democratic participation of space exploration, mining, and ventures, as it asks: What dynamics will emerge throughout the course of the artwork's lifetime, in terms of collaboration and competition over the acquisition of digital space resources? How do they mirror similar dynamics expressed in our society at large in the era of space capitalization? And what can we do to ensure the equitable distribution of space resources for the common benefit of all mankind?
The artwork can be experienced at:
Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm
ARTificial Mind team: Jens Hegner Stærmose, Alexander Krog, Cody Lukas Anderson, Asbjørn Olling and Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm.
NASA, CASIS, Lonestar, Canonical, Redwire Space, MindFuture Foundation, Danish Arts Foundation, Space For Art Foundation and Astronaut Nicole Stott.