I have been following the real Juno spacecraft form the very beginning. As I do with a lot of science experiments. I followed Juno's development, I watched its launch in 2011 live via internet, and I still follow it now as it is sending back the most amazing pictures and data.
To me scientific endeavours such as Juno are the most valuable things we can do as humanity in this incomprehensible universe we live in. Juno is important because it gathers knowledge. That is why I wanted to get to know Juno better. I was building a 1:50 scale model for my bookcase when DordtYart approached me for an exhibition and residency with the theme Appear / Disappear. This scale model of Juno was not meant to be an art project, but it became one then.
Appear / Disappear. A spacecraft like Juno is constructed in a clean room at NASA, its instruments are sensitive and NASA does not want any failures to happen to this sensitive 1.3 billion dollar machine so access to the process is restricted. When construction is complete, rigorous testing begins to prepare for launch. At this point people have been working on the spacecraft for decades, final goodbyes are being said before the spacecraft gets loaded onto a 60 meter tall missile, never to be seen again. Juno wonÕt return, it will burn up in Jupiter's atmosphere and its 10 year mission will be complete.
The data Juno generates is invaluable, humanity will be working with this data for many many years to come, figuring out all kinds of facts about jupiter, the solar system and beyond. Some mysteries about the planet and the solar system will disappear.
Scientific equipment and experiments are not designed to be aesthetic, the shape is determined by the function. Therefore, whilst making a model of something, you automatically encounter the function of its parts. Sometimes though, this function is too complex for me to understand. This lack of knowledge leads to objects and shapes to be somewhat abstract. I like the idea that abstraction can become less abstract due to educating yourself. Juno and its discoveries are a prime example of this process
Modelmaking is a thing I do to get to know objects I admire. There is no better way to know an object than to make it yourself. It creates a deeper connection with the object and a personal relation to it. But because of space limitations, most objects need to be built on a smaller scale than the original. This forces you to make choices and to not be as exact as you may want to be. The scale also causes a problem when you try to relate yourself to its original size. The best thing to really relate to the original, is to make it full-scale.
Space, time and scale
Because my Juno is q 1:1 model of the real Juno spacecraft, I am immediately confronted by space, time and scale. I am confronted by the fact that I myself am 1:1, I am in space, I am in a moment of time, I am on a planet called earth. The real Juno this model represents is flying around Jupiter, a huge gas giant approximately 658 000 000 kilometers in the direction of the bright distant light I see in the night sky when jupiter is at its closest to earth. (June 10th, 2019, during its exhibition). Scale is a difficult subject to grasp because it is so relative.
In history, most artistic objects were about gods, admired people, mysteries and fantasy stories that were seen as important. The names Juno and Jupiter also originate from these times. Until recently we knew very little about how the universe really was, The stars and especially the planets were seen as signs from the gods. Today it seems most people take for granted how much we have discovered and in what fascinating time we live. Objects like the Juno spacecraft are the modern day explorers that shape the view of our existence.
Many many thanks to DordtYart and Mondriaan Fund for their trust and for helping me realise this work!