In Solaris, through the words of a scientist conquering the unknown realms of other planets, Stanislaw Lem, points out a paradox underlying any attempt to communicate with extraterrestrials: 'We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We struggle to make contact, but we'll never achieve it' (1970:72).

Per Aspera Ad Astra (from Latin 'through hardship to the stars') was a morse coded sentence launched alongside other sound recordings onboard Voyager space probe sent into space in 1977. This project is an ongoing artistic and media archaeological exploration of such human attempts to connect with the extraterrestrial. The project takes the form of a performative soundscape composition built of archival material and sounds produced by an array of communication technologies used historically to establish contact with aliens. The archival recordings include glitches from a series of digitized interviews with UFO witnesses from Sweden's Archive for the Unexplained, snippets from the famous Voyager message, radio signals from the outer space, and reenactments of historical messages sent into space combined with gradually intercepted and deconstrcuted morse coded remediations of Stanislaw Lem's deliberations on the inherently flawed idea of establishing contact with extraterrestrial beings.

A part of the project was presented at Ars Electronica 2018, between September 6 and 9, within the KOSMICA Parliament's installation critically reflecting on human activities and failures in outer space. The performative soundscape composition was premiered officially at Larry's Corner in Stockholm on February 6, 2019. The images below come from a rehearsal at Fylkingen in Stockholm.

Reference: Stanislaw Lem (1970) Solaris, Bill Johnston [transl.], New York: Walker