Magenta Magnetic (2019)

The inspiration for Magenta Magnetic was brought about by an ongoing conversation with Mark McCaughrean from ESTEC. Early in the year I was generously guided on a tour of the ESTEC premises where I was given descriptions of some of the projects conducted at their facility just outside The Hague. Overwhelmed by the immensity of what I was seeing, an anti-gravity chamber, a room of lights as powerful as a sun, a wall of speakers capable of producing sound loud enough to be dangerously destructive, a Mars simulator, a satellite testing room to name some of the projects I saw. The thought of Space is terrifying. It’s limitless, vast and unknown. Its eerie and seductive presence sparks the inspiration for infinite possibilities, countless stories, music and images attempt to connect with the ineffable, setting up a tantalising challenge for scientists and engineers to research, theorise and try to understand. The quest to conquer space is met with the undeniable fact that all that we thought we knew was or at least might be wrong, and then that’s when things became strange. We look up into the sky and suddenly there lies a mysterious and magnificent orb in our line of sight that we hadn’t noticed before, it is neither a sun nor a moon, although it could be both. Perfectly round and white, it is not bright enough to be blinding when we look at it yet too bright to be able to observe the craters of the Moon’s face. We stare at it unflinchingly. Clouds drift by and it remains unchanging, silent, still. Its presence is disconcerting. It is like a physical manifestation of conscience, a silent guardian that has no need to speak, where a simple glance sends a cold shiver of shame through our veins. We ponder what it could mean. Perhaps it is a sign from another realm, a messenger, a herald for the end of time. It was unexpected. We didn’t ask for it. It was simply there, caught in the push and pull of gravity, free falling in orbit, slowly spinning just beyond reach and then, without a word it was gone.