On 30th May 2020, for the first time in human history, a private company launched two people into orbit. Space travel of any kind can spark a millennia old fascination with the night sky. From earth, our view of space is no greater than that of our ancestors; often seeing far less in starless, light polluted skies. Our images of space have been influenced by cameras able to look where we cannot, though rather than clarify space as something we can understand, they present an unfathomable concept of the universe. This can be an inspiring concept, as the vastness of space turns stargazing into time travel. While for some, these images form the basis of scepticism, forgery and flatness, as even the most scientific images become the subject of mistrust. What hangs over all of this, today as it has before, is the cost of these now commercial ventures into space, which sit in stark contrast to the efforts made on earth, where economic inequality, the climate disaster, and racial injustices remain. Who is (this) space travel for?

The commercialisation of space is an inevitable consequence of neoliberal capitalism. It seems inevitable then, that if vacuums of space can be commodified, so too can the ephemeral landscape where this programme sits, the internet. This space has become a point of focus during the pandemic(s), as a space to explore while we Stay at Home. The resulting cascade of online exhibitions (this included) highlights how little is known about online practice, in the underwhelming use of such a familiar platform. The struggle to fully comprehend the complexity of the internet is understandable, as we travel here through smartphones, tablets, and computers containing more processing power than the first Apollo missions. Through these personal devices we enter our lives, interests, and experiences; both positive and negative. It is here where people connect, learn, socialise, identify and reach out to others outside the restrictions of physical space.

The internet, like space, appears vast, unfillable; they have a seemingly unlimited net worth. And although the internet is far more physical than our experience of it — The Cloud is far from vaporous — it functions as a black hole of data, absorbing our content, attention, considerations, interests. There are monsters in this space, leviathans lurking, not in the dark matter, but on the surface, buying and selling user engagement through smiley-face branding. How much is a YouTube video, Tweet, or personalised ad? This ephemeral, post-industrial labour is supporting vast increases in wealth, and as commercial space travel takes its first step, user labour may soon be exchanged for space travel. One small click for us(ers), one giant leap for Silicon Valley.

This programme aims to raise some of these questions, featuring content made available online by their maker or otherwise. These video wormholes converge here, bringing together emerging and established makers of experimental video, cinema and space travel. Some uphold their original form, made for interstellar travel. Others perhaps mutated, distorted, alien. Yet all share a mutual connection to the unknowns of space, both physical and digital, as unknowns worthy of imagination.

Saints Day Militello, video, 2017/19, Ella Mccartney

2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968, Sfx Douglas Trumbull, Dir. Stanley Kubrick

Car wash, video, 2019, Ella Mccartney

Almossstt the Moon 8, video, 2019, Patrick Bradley

Ellipsis, 2010, Nooshin Farhid (Voiceover: Ross Mullan)

LuAfPoD, 2016, Jamaal Tolbert

UFOs: The Best Evidence Ever (Caught on Tape), iPhone 7 Plus, 17/03/19, Jamie Jenkinson (co-programmer, duration optional)

First Flight, video, 2006, Mariya Nikiforova

Strange Space (For Aids Awareness program Public TV broadcast), video, 1993, Leslie Thornton, co-produced with Ron Vawter