In 2007, a small group of people began an intentional, collaborative experiment in open, transparent, and direct communication about your space program. Our goal was to enable your direct participation in exploring and contributing to NASA’s mission.

Many of us have since begun new adventures. This site will remain as an archive of the accomplishments of the openNASA experiment.

Katy Jeremko

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with installation artist and space enthusiast Tom Sachs. By recreating great cultural motifs out of basic materials such as foam-core, plywood, and hot glue, Sachs juxtaposes exterior appearance against internal value. His work, both playful and ironic, demonstrates current trends in the ways that we communicate, the ways in which we consume, and how “sexy” space can be.

Sachs’ most recent work, “Space Program: Mars” is a compelling exhibit, which upon first glance is seamlessly real. However, it’s construction isn’t hidden - it’s purposely assembled out of plywood, screws, and glue. This work stands for itself. Inherent to space imagery, exploration is naturally occurring beauty. Sachs installation art demonstrates that invaluable quality. He notes that we’re growing up in times where visual stimuli can border exploitation. However, imagery of space exploration is unconditionally breath-taking and sexy. He states, “the reason that we go to Mars, the Moon, or Europa is for the idea of exploration”. While making another place our “home” is far from the tangible reality, we should be placing effort towards more physically substantial programs.

Not only is Sachs’ perspective demonstrated through this recent exhibit, but so much more of his voice has been documented through the various projects he’s had his hands in. Bridging underground cult-phenomenons with lo-tech production processes, Sachs asserts that there is a precious parameter in simplicity. He stresses that we live in a world of conveniences, which allow us “an ask away from knowing anything”, while polluting our environments with technology too opaque to understand and use. To navigate these specialized sectors in human development, we need to question how to use the machine to help our hearts. We’ve found so many useful reasons to incorporate technology into our lives at a personal level, and it’s opened the world up a little, we need to answer the “so-what” behind our modernization.

Between 2009 and 2012, Sachs set out to testify the tenants of reuse, repair, and durability over those attached to mass production. As a culture, we have come to accept products that live a short lifetime. Inherent to the materials they are produced out of, the things that we use should become better with time, such as leather and plywood. While mass-production affords us a “useful strategy” and offers the chance of some recyclability, we should be looking to objects to have “long-term strength”. Working in conjunction with Nike, Sachs developed the “Mars Yard Shoe”. Sachs approached the project from an angle beyond expectation : he conceived the athletic end-user as a mechanical engineer. This shoe disrupts the market through the story it yields. Many more designed objects can be found here, as Sachs designed a series of things to serve this purpose. Through his intention of repair, reuse, and strength, these objects personify the future that Sachs believes we could seek.

By building suspense, destroying our expectations, and valuing women through technology, Sachs is identifying the audience as the voyeur. In his work, the “worm” font from early NASA years pops up continuously, providing a visceral and nostalgic emotion to a captive audience. We watch, we wait, we listen, and digest. In understanding that there is a pluralism in the greatness of all things, Sachs’ work serves to call attention to our disposable environments. Not only does his work capitalize on construction material, but it also proves that the internet is the vehicle for distribution and consumption. We are able to multi-task in a flash, sourcing images which is part of a “bigger field to connect our minds” on a “telepathic” level.

This is space through the eyes of a conscious, heart-driven, and talented arteur. His work not only manifests the breadth of various generations, but it also highlights the importance of valuable resources, the sex-appeal of space, and the significance of a sci-fi writer’s dream.

Discover Tom Sachs:

Video work by Van Neistat, of Sachs‘ installation pieces :

An interactive book of Sachs’ project “NIKECRAFT” :

Caption :

Produced in the “Energies and Skills” series, “Space Camp” (2012) is a study of the self and a creation of Sachs’ beautiful space mission. His perspective, both fresh and whimsical directs our attention towards managing things with great care and efficiency. Directed by Van Neistat, envisioned by Tom Sachs. All image credits Tom Sachs. 


[Sachs 1][]

[Sachs 2][]

[Sachs 1]: [Sachs 2]: