Outer Space Narrative and Humanity’s Limits: Will the Space Traveler Meet Agamben’s homo sacer
Lena Quelvennec graduated from Lund University with a Master’s degree in Visual Culture. Her thesis focuses on peripheral space, occupations and how landscape definitions are rethought in the Anthropocene visuality. She previously obtained a Master's in Visual Arts at the HEAD, Geneva, researching digital documents and art.
Outer space conquest during the twentieth century has produced new perspectives on borders and the notion of globalization. Space programs have produced extensive images, influencing both representations of the Earth and of humanity. Today, some individuals still wish to represent the whole of humanity outside of its original borders when traveling to Mars and even further. However, behind the question of what kind of humanity was and is represented, the sensitive issue of who belongs to this narrative is raised. As a first step and influenced by the art project I Will Build My Own Rocket, this paper will describe the influence of the space conquest narrative on perceptions of Earth’s borders. The ways in which both NASA and more recently Mars One shape humanity’s representations and its representatives will be analyzed to investigate who belongs to their space narrative. After presenting three different portraits of aspiring space travelers, a parallel between the space traveler's position and the figure of Giorgio Agamben’s homo sacer will be offered, questioning how this may interfere with the space utopia of a perfect humanity elsewhere.