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The New Colonists.

Photographs by Monica Alcazar-Duarte. Text by Marek Kukula. Commentary by Ian Crawford. Designed by Ramon Pez. Edited by Karen McQuaid and Maxwell Anderson.
Bemojake, London, United Kingdom, 2017. 120 pp., 80 color illustrations, 7xx½".

Selected as one of the Best Books of 2018 by:
Publisher's Description

The New Colonists is the winner of the 2017 Bar Tur Photobook Award.

Augmented Reality: The New Colonists app is available to download from the app store.

The New Colonists, a project in three parts, begins by presenting the uncanny suburban town of Mars in Pennsylvania, USA. Steeped in midnight tones, her quotidian documentations of gas stations, football fields and fast food joints transport viewers to a time, place and feeling of all American life, but more importantly, human life. The work is imbued with a sense of western normality — whilst hinting to an otherworldly undertone beyond these images.

Interrupting the quietness of small town America captured in the book are 5 additional sequences of images, which are inserted into this suburban narrative, chronicling the research and individual scientists who are attempting to make colonising the red planet a reality.

Placed at key intersections in the book, Alcazar-Duarte’s contrasting documentary images capture everything from the top space travel technology in the European Space Agency, to the terrestrial ‘Mars Yards’, where robotic rovers are put through their paces in artificial landscapes of rock and sand. Meanwhile, would-be astronauts are tested against the rigours of a future Mars mission, confined for months at a time to enclosed habitats in inhospitable places such as polar deserts, Hawaiian lava fields, or even an industrial estate outside Moscow.

These efforts take place in the most down-to-Earth of locations and circumstances as well as the most sophisticated, but all of these scientists are, or will be, leading the construction of a new future in a far land.

The third component of the book consists of an “Augmented Reality Portal”. Using an app designed by Paul Ferragut, readers are invited to search for and discover embedded footage and sound within the book’s pages. Through this ‘portal’ viewers encounter a new knowledge. The videos feature 3-D animations of spy satellites and space colonies by Levan Tozashvili as well as narration from Dr Ian Crawford, Professor of Planetary Science and Astrobiology at Birkbeck. Within this interview Crawford presents his ideas on Space colonisation. And the notions of “space law” and “space ethics”.

The New Colonists celebrates the zeal, creativity and resilience of the people behind the initial efforts our society is making towards this next phase in history. It encourages us to look to the far future with eyes wide open, with an imperative need to resolve legal loopholes, allowing space exploration to proceed in a peaceful and balanced way.


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