In 1492, Christopher Columbus set foot on America. In 2015, photographer and artist Julien Mauve set foot on Mars – in his imagination. The photography project featured rented Apollo mission ESP-A7L spacesuit replicas, and a trip through the parts of America which could best approximate the landscape of Mars.
“I made my scouting using Google Map, Flickr, Instagram and I chose the places that I thought had the most potential,” Julien told me. “It includes Grand Canyon, Canyonland, Death Valley, Meteo Crater, Imperial Dunes and Petrified Forest.”
The project was about space exploration and discovery, set in a distinctly human context – stereotypical tourism combined with the awe of stepping foot on a new, otherworldly landscape.
“I crawled the database from NASA and read a lot of articles before the beginning of the trip,” says Julian. “When it comes to finding Mars look-alike landscapes on Earth, there is not a lot of choice. Basically, what you need is rocks, sand, canyons and no signs of biological life.” After the eight-day trip, Julien edited the pictures by cropping out any signs of biological life, and tinted the landscapes in red. Still, it’s extremely easy to think of this as a different planet altogether.
The one with the selfie stick is perhaps my favourite. Julien explains that he is really interested by the selfie culture, because he likes to observe people and see how they use pictures to convey feelings. “The first time I saw someone taking a picture with an iPad, I was really amused. Same thing with the selfie stick,” says Julian. “I just wanted to include this in the project because that’s part of our species and who we are today and I assumed we would act the same on another planet even though (I hope) we would have got rid of selfie sticks then!”
I hope so, too. Perhaps by then we will have tiny portable drones which we will deploy to take pictures of us – it’s the logical next step.