TWOi

Satellite, particpation, installation, Low Earth Orbit, and Earth, 29.04.09 — 02.04.19

The Weight of Information

The Weight of Information (TWOi) was a pico-satellite based artwork that had two main iterations. During the first it was launched into low earth orbit in 2014, but failed to deploy burning up before becoming operation. The second satellite TWOi 2.0 was launched in 2018, finally achieving autonomous orbit in March 2019. The satellite was launched by the KickSat project through the NASA educational launch programe, and developed by the artist.

The satellite launches were accompanied by a series of Earth based Meet to Delete events that were organised to coincide with satellite’s orbit. The project had over 25 public appearances, including as a gallery work in 2015, and finally as a participatory ground station installation at the Thomas King Observatory in Wellington (NZ) in 2018/19.

On March 23rd a radio transmission was received from the TWOi satellite shortly before it re-entered the atmosphere and burned up, transmitting what is likely to have been a single zero.

The artwork proposes an imaginary universe or storyworld in which information and not mass is responsible for gravitation. The satellite was launched and placed in a decaying spiral orbit ensuring that it would burn up on re-entry. Characterised as a tragic hero, the satellite attempted to escape its fiery destiny by performing a whimsical experiment in which it collected data and immediately deleted it, in an attempt to to ascend by forgetting.

Meanwhile, on Earth, participants in the Meet 2 Delete public events were asked to delete their own personal information to make the world a little lighter and aid the satellite in its escape from Earth’s gravitational pull.

The artwork addresses our relationship to the increasing role of information and data in society, and poses the question of whether it is truly possible to delete information and have agency over it. As part of the artwork a speculative physics experiment was performed to test a theory that it is information and not mass that causes gravitation. The results were inconclusive.

Resources

Resources of indvidual elements of the project can be found here.

Video

Julian Priest, Space Artist by Nicholas Twist

Credits