Dolphins in space?! -Daniel Waltrip

After watching some YouTube videos about the neo-Nazi demonstration that Professor Vesna witnessed, we had the distinct honor of receiving a guest lecture by Richard Clar, a local interdisciplinary artist on Wednesday. Seeing as there was no class Monday, we are restricted to blogging about Richard Clar’s presentation.

The most interesting concept that I picked up from his presentation was the idea of using art as a medium to potentially communicate with extraterrestrials. The Space Flight Dolphin project seeks to release a dolphin into space as a satellite that orbits the earth. It will transmit a signal that is a modulated by the sounds of dolphins. This dolphin signal is available for reception and detection by any possible alien or extraterrestrial sources. Additionally, the dolphin voices will monitored by various museums around the world. The idea behind this project is to approach communication with life in outer space in a new way. Richard uses a more artistic, unique perspective, rather than the methodical scientific view point in his goal to answer the question, “Are we alone?”

This can be appreciated, I suppose, but I fail to see how one can honestly say this is a valuable scientific pursuit. There is merit in pursuing one’s creative desires, expressing themselves, and following their dreams. However, a dolphin soaring through space in orbit around the earth as it transmits dolphin sounds in hopes of detection by an alien source? I think that the idea of contacting extraterrestrials is fascinating (while perhaps somewhat farfetched), but this is more of fancy, modern art project with a science label slapped on. The scientists who are putting forth a focused effort to search the sky for signs of extraterrestrial life deserve to be recognized, however this isn’t quite on the same level. Though as an ambitious art project that creatively employs technology, it is quite interesting and honorable.

This may sound somewhat negative, and I am probably reflecting on my natural bias, but as I posted earlier in the quarter, the way that art, science, and technology connect is through art being assisted and expanded by the discoveries and evolutions of science and technology. Art doesn’t further the goals of science or create new technology. It serves a very valid function in life, as a mode of human expression that can’t be met any other way, and I don’t mean to demean it at all. It seems to me that the space dolphin project is another example of this concept. 



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