For the past few months, I-Weather.org, developed by Philippe Rahm and fabric | ch, has been churning up a pastel maelstrom here on this blog for use by our spatially and temporally displaced readers to restore their circadian rhythms, whether this is actually possible or not. You, too, can embed this artificial sun on your website to blast your asynchronous readers into metabolic normality. Its open source code is freely available.
At the recent 01SJ Biennial in San Jose, California, we saw a less earthbound and less private platform for this quasi-light therapy: a flickering light tower for “confined and conditioned environments of space exploration vehicles” and “speculative public spaces of distant colonies.”
To distribute and synchronize these pockets of simulant terrestrial cycles of day and night across vast distances, fabrica | ch proposes using a theoretical Deep Space Internet.
By coincide, we first learned about this project just as the first reports about the trapped miners in Chile started trickling in to our attention, specifically, the news that NASA scientists have been flown in by the Chilean government to offer advice on how to help the men stay physically and mentally healthy during the weeks-long rescue.
Al Holland, a NASA psychologist, says during a press conference:
One of the things that's being recommended is that there be one place, a community area, which is always lighted. And then you have a second area which is always dark for sleep, and then you have a third area which is work, doing the mining, and the shifts can migrate through these geographic locations within the mine and, in that way, regulate the daylight cycle of the shift.
It occurred to us that one should make a portable version of Deep Space Public Lighting for future mining disasters. It should be able to fit through bore holes and then easily assembled by survivors in the murky depths of a collapsed tunnel.
A deployable piazza for subterranean “distant colonies.”
Rather than being illuminated by the anemic brightness of a hard hat or video camera, one bathes in soothing electromagnetic wavelengths from a technicolor torch.
Or from an i-weatherized iPhone.
And yes, considering the high demand for coal and industrial minerals, there will be many more mining disasters, many more trapped miners and, depending on various fortunate circumstances, more tunnels to be reconfigured. In fact, only a few days after the last Chilean miner was brought to the surface, 11 miners were trapped at a coal mine in China after a deadly explosion.
Consider, too, the recent export ban by China on shipment of rare earth elements to Japan after a kerfuffle between the two countries involving a collision between a Chinese fishing trawler and Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats near some disputed islands. The ban may have been brief, and China may have denied having instituted one in the first place, nevertheless, the incident points again that China is willing to use its near resource monopoly of rare earth metals as a political tool, to get its way, in other words. Other countries have again taken notice, and are scrambling to develop alternative sources, if not already, to ensure future supply. With new mines opening and even old mine operations being restarted, there are more potentials for disasters.
Reformatted in this context, Deep (Inner) Space Public Lighting engages not just with issues such as “public space, public data, public technology and artificial climate” but also with the geopolitics of natural resources, globalization and our collective networked boredom that seemingly can only be satiated by an epic spectacle of natural and man-made disasters and the ensuing heroic rescue of survivors.