Platinum Metres - (2007-2012)
Five years in the making, and featuring contributions from dozens of musicians and artists around the globe, Platinum Metres is Joshua WF Thomson’s eagerly awaited debut album on his eponymously titled Platinum Metres label.
Launched by NASA in the summer of 1977, space probes Voyager I and Voyager II were sent to the outer edge of our solar system to study gas giants Jupiter and Saturn.
As these most distant of man-made objects extend beyond the influence of our Sun towards interstellar space, they take on an ambassadorial role, which will potentially occupy them for many thousands, if not millions of years.
Messages were placed on-board both probes to communicate the story of our world to intelligent extraterrestrials or humans of the future who may encounter them. These messages are carried on phonograph records - 12" gold-plated copper disks each accompanied by a stylus and encoded instructions on how to extract the information contained. The contents were selected by a panel, chaired by astrophysicist Dr Carl Sagan.
The Golden Records include messages of welcome from international statesmen, greetings in 55 languages, 115 images encoded into analogue form, a 12-minute audio essay and 27 pieces of music. The essay consists of "The Sounds of Earth" which tells the story of life on planet Earth and the 27 pieces were selected to display the wealth, depth and diversity of our musical production.
It will be 40,000 years before Voyager I reaches the nearest potentially inhabited planets on its trajectory. The probability of either of the voyager probes being intercepted are so slim the project is perhaps more accurately regarded as an inward looking endeavour rather than a serious attempt to reach other life forms. According to Sagan, "The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet."
Platinum Metres is Thomson’s reworking of the epic NASA mission. It is his love letter to the vinyl format and to NASA’s Golden Record; the physical manifestation of our enduring compulsion to communicate.
On the 4th August at 4:48am (Japanese Standard Time) Joshua Thomson’s record Platinum Metres blasted off towards its ultimate conclusion. The L.P. was launched into space from the Japanese Tanegashima Space Centre onboard a nano-satellite.
The nano-satellite travelled on a H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), called Kounotori, or White Stork, towards the International Space Station where it was docked before being sent into orbit on 20th November 2013.
The launch and rendezvous with the ISS were streamed live online by JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Footage from those streams can be found here and here.
Spectacular NASA footage of the release of the natosatellites from the ISS can be seen here.
A selection of images from the Platinum Metres project:
A selection of audio samples from Platinum Metres can be found here: