The phrase “space exploration” conjures up images of mind-boggling technology and sleek, cutting-edge environments designed and controlled down to the last detail. But in their latest project filmmaker Mike Moloney and photographer John Hooper have captured a completely different side of the efforts to chart the great unknown, after spending 24 hours at the IAC Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands.
It was part of the duo’s 24 Hours, Here project and now photographs, a film and various objects they collected while they were there are on display at So Far the Future in Emerald Street, London.
Situated in a sun-scorched, volcanic landscape some 2,400 metres above sea level, this corner of La Palma is a pretty unique region even before you add in the extraordinary 1970s sci-fi style buildings, which with their gleaming metal surfaces and industrial architecture resemble a Bond villain’s lair. To step inside, where teams of astrologers live odd, nocturnal lives, is to step into a retro film set where everything – from the telephones and computers to the floor tiles and electric switches – feels eerily anachronistic.
The scientists at the IAC labs still make discoveries and the super-strength telescopes crank into gear come nightfall to scan the skies, but something about the place seems reluctant to yield too many secrets. In fact in the film, we discover that at one point the wind smashed the cameras onto some rocks – the petulant tantrum of a fading star who knows their best days are behind them perhaps?
This is a mesmerising show, with important themes filtered through two very talented artists in a way that makes them personal, and touchingly humble
It runs until August 13.