We may not always realize it, but art helps us change the way we see ourselves. That is why when artist Trevor Paglen imagined launching a reflective, nonfunctional satellite into low Earth orbit, the Nevada Museum of Art understood that his artistic gesture could help to change the way humanity sees our place in the world.
Orbital Reflector is a sculpture constructed of a lightweight polyethylene material that looks like thin plastic. It is housed in a small box-like infrastructure known as a CubeSat that will be launched into space on board a rocket. Once in orbit, about 350 miles from Earth, the CubeSat will open and release the sculpture that will self-inflate like a balloon. Reflective titanium dioxide powder coats the inside of the sculpture, so that sunlight reflects off of it, making it visible from Earth with the naked eye — like a slowly moving artificial star as bright as a star in the Big Dipper.
The Nevada Museum of Art and Trevor Paglen worked with the aerospace engineering firm Global Western to design and manufacture Orbital Reflector. Spaceflight Industries arranged for the launch of Orbital Reflector on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. As the twenty-first century unfolds and gives rise to unsettled global tensions, Orbital Reflector encourages all of us to look up at the night sky with a renewed sense of wonder, to consider our place in the universe, and to reimagine how we live together on this planet.
To learn more about the project, visit orbitalreflector.com.
Trevor Paglen: Orbital Reflector, co-produced and presented by the Nevada Museum of Art. The archive materials generated from the Orbital Reflector project will become part of the archive collections of the Museum’s Center for Art + Environment. Trevor Paglen: Orbital Reflector, co-produced and presented by the Nevada Museum of Art, will cost $1.3 million over the project’s three-year span.
I. Heidi Loeb Hegerich
Louise A. Tarble Foundation
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation
The Jacquie Foundation
Piper Stremmel and Chris Reilly
Charles and Margaret Burback Foundation
The Fisher Brothers
RBC Wealth Management and City National Bank
Sandy and Steven Hardie
Karyn and Lance Tendler
Henry Moore Foundation (UK)
Exclusive sponsorship for the Orbital Reflector installation and lead sponsorship for the Museum’s STEAM education programs is provided by Switch.
Additional support provided by the 557 backers of this project’s Kickstarter campaign.