Why is this interesting? - The Interstellar Communication Edition

On art, SETI, and looking outward

Gabe Brosbe (GSB) works as a seller for enterprise software startups. In his off hours, he is culturally omnivorous, checking out music and art around New York. We used to work together and he was always guaranteed to make me laugh. - Noah (NRB)

Gabe here. In artist Dario’s Robleto’s body of work, Small Crafts on Sisyphean Seas, he created a series of collages and sculptures that take his ongoing conversations with biologists, engineers, and astronomers, and consider the role of empathy in interstellar communication. Robleto spent three years engaged in extensive research with the scientists who work at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI). 

Dario Robleto, Small Crafts on Sisyphean Seas, 2017–2018

Dario Robleto, Small Crafts on Sisyphean Seas (detail), 2017–2018

As described by his gallerist, Inman Gallery: “Robleto’s work is motivated by two central questions: How does one communicate with something they can’t imagine? And, is empathy a universal behavior?”

Embedded in Robleto’s work is melancholic recognition tied to the human desire to search for life in the universe. Since 1983, SETI has been listening for messages beamed to us from outer space, however, given the expanse of time needed to cross the distance, a reply sent back will arrive far past the lifespan of the scientist who sent it. 

Each work plays with these blurring lines between science and philosophy. 

In the collage, The Curious Confront Eternity, Robleto honors the generosity of curiosity and how curiosity adds to depth to our connections to each other. Dario Robleto saw curiosity as fueling the work of the SETI scientists. 

Dario Robleto, The Curious Confront Eternity, 2018

Why is this interesting? 

When it comes to interstellar communication, I am not beaming messages to the Cosmos from my apartment in Brooklyn, but it feels clear that time has been turned on its head lately and I’ve been having trouble looking towards the future. What is fascinating about the work that SETI does is that they are working tirelessly, selflessly, towards an end they will not experience. The result is communication with “the other” and a response would be received long after the scientists are gone. 

As Robleto put it: 

From SETI’s perspective, there is no more problematic version of ‘other’ than what they deal with every day. And yet, they persevere against all odds and overwhelming obstacles to not only find this other but believe the barriers of communication can be overcome; it’s an incredibly hopeful gesture. It is a relevant issue of our own time and planet taken to the broadest, most cosmic scale.” 

It can be challenging to look forward at the moment, out towards the unknown, but Robleto’s work about SETI grounds me with just how far out people have been looking. (GSB

Picture of the Day:

JR’s The Chronicles of New York in Domino Park

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Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Gabe (GSB)


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