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The Rehearsal of Space & The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite

In 2012, Edgar Martins was granted unparalleled access to The European Space Agency (ESA) and its partners’ programs, including the human spaceflight, lunar and Mars exploration programs.
Over a period of two years, he travelled to 20 locations across the UK, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Kazakhstan and French Guiana to shoot in classified facilities such as test centres, robotics departments, space simulators, laboratories, launch sites and platforms, astronaut training centres and satellite assembly rooms.
The photographs were shot using long exposures (up to one hour) and an 10×8”, large format camera. Their clean composition and hyper-real sharpness contrast greatly with the veil of secrecy and enigma that usually shrouds space-related activity. Although rarely seen by the public, the technology and facilities in The Rehearsal of Space look strangely familiar, underlining popular culture’s influence in shaping our understanding of space exploration.
Martins’ rigorous survey reveals the sheer scale of this global scientific endeavour, perhaps the greatest of our time. Altogether, there are over 86 photographs in the series, ranging from the macro – rockets, satellites, training modules, cleanrooms, to micro–components barely visible to the human eye. As always, his approach is both descriptive and speculative, and it is somewhere between fact and fiction that the photographs take on their full meaning. The Rehearsal of Space documents our quest to penetrate the astrophysical reality of the universe in order to better understand time, space, and matter. In doing so, Martins highlights the wider politics of space exploration, the ever-growing role of science and technology in our society and our relationship with the unknown, whilst opening up wider questions around epistemology, metaphysics and ultimately humanity’s conception of itself.

Date: May 2014
ISBN: 978-84-15691-68-6
Dimensions: 240mmx320mm
Pages: 184 (86 color plates)
Hardback, with dust-jacket
English and Spanish
Essays by John Gribbin, João Seixas, Sérgio Mah

About the Author
Edgar Martins is visual artist woking across different media. His work is represented in several high-profile collections, such as those of the V&A, RIBA, the Dallas Museum of Art; MAST , MUDAS, Modern Art Centre Lisbon, MAAT, Fondation Carmignac, amongst others. He has published over 16 books which were met with critical acclaim and exhibited internationally. He was selected to represent Macau (China) at the 54th Venice Biennale.

Author the Writers
João Seixas is a Professor at Instituto Superior Técnico (Lisbon, Portugal) and a member of the CMS Collaboration of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (Geneva, Switzerland), where he is leading the portuguese group in the studies of quarkonia and high energy heavy ion interactions.
John Gribbin is a Visiting Fellow in Astronomy at the University of Sussex.  His many books include Science: A History (Penguin).
Sérgio Mah teaches Photography at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He was head of programming of the 2003 and 2005 editions of the LisboaPhoto Biennale and the artistic director of PhotoEspaña between 2008 and 2010. He was appointed curator of Portugal’s Official Representation at the 54th Venice Biennale.



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