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A Journey:
The Near Future

Danish artist Nicolai Howalt depicts our yet-to-be-explored red neighbour, nearly 63 million kilometres away

‘In a time when the future of the planet is paramount, Mars is particularly interesting, as the planet can not only teach us about the universe’s past and the origin of life, but also about our future and what we (might) have in store’.

-Nicolai Howalt

In a time of great technological leaps and climatic upheavals, Mars represents the next steppingstone for humanity’s expansion into space.

In A Journey: The Near Future, Danish artist Nicolai Howalt depicts our yet-to-be-explored red neighbour, nearly 63 million kilometres away. Howalt’s work takes its starting point in the photographic panoramas captured on the surface of Mars by the NASA-rovers Curiosity, Perseverance, Spirit and Opportunity.

‘These digital images have allowed us to view the Martian landscape in an unusually detailed and sharp resolution, but paradoxically the same digital precision makes the images almost unapproachable and unreal. We see through the lifeless eye of a robot’.

-Nicolai Howalt

In A Journey: The Near Future the analogue and the digital, the human and the mechanical, the near and the far walk hand in hand. By converting the digital NASA-files into analogue photographic negatives, Howalt transforms the images from digital information to physical photographs created in the photographic darkroom with light, chemistry and human hands. Through this processing of the images, Howalt open them to a sensitive gaze that is not only aimed at scientific data collection, but also at existential and historically conscious reflections.

Black & white photography has always been linked to the presence of a photographer. Thus, Howalt induces the Martian landscapes with a sense of human presence – which brings us into a paradoxical closeness with a landscape, where no human has yet been. In their transformation from pixels to silver halides the panoramas become images not brought into vision by the remote eyes of a robot, but by human touch, vision and sensibility.