"If someone is going to invade our planet, presumably they're going to come in some sort of electronic, electricity-powered ship," Gibson notes whimsically. "Maybe this will make them stop for a moment and say, 'These guys are nice. We're not going to destroy their planet.'"
At the very least, it will give them the opportunity to pause briefly and check out what may be the world's first orbiting work of art.
Of the 1,000 or so functioning satellites that race around Earth every day, there isn't one he knows of that also doubles as art, says veteran satellite builder Craig Clark, who runs the Scotland-based company preparing to launch this one from Kazakhstan on October 29.
"No one else is crazy enough," the CEO of Clyde Space Ltd. said. In building the small satellite that will monitor atmospheric conditions and send back photos and other information from 373 miles (600 kilometers) above Earth, he turned to Gibson and White and their popular iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles.
Their previous works include such esoteric efforts as overseeing a performance-art, paint-by-numbers project in 2010 that had 20,000 people affixing 2-inch-by-2-inch (5-centimeter-by-5-centimeter) pixels to a wall to create a splashy, colorful mural for a conference of video game developers. A film of their efforts now resides in an art museum in Denver.
"Hopefully, by doing quirky things like this we'll get some kids interested in space. Rather than going on war, they can do something that helps change the world and make it a better place," said Clark, who received a Member of the British Empire honor for his work this year from Queen Elizabeth II.
After some brainstorming, Gibson and White decided they wanted to do something directly related to space travel. Using Computer Generated Imagery to make the satellite look like an electrical charger circling Earth turned out to be pretty easy. Putting such a design on a 2-pound (900-gram) , shoebox-sized gizmo filled with wires, antennas, sensors, solar panels and other sensitive equipment proved far more challenging.


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