Eren İleri

Indigenous Martian Bacteria DO Have Precedence Over Human Exploration: An Exercise in No Man’s Sky

“Indigenous Martian Bacteria DO Have Precedence Over Human Exploration: An Exercise in No Man’s Sky” is a performance borrowing elements from video game live streaming and Let’s Play formats. I play No Man’s Sky video game by Hello Games and over the course of the performance I read texts about planetary protection, organized resistance against outer space exploration and ethics of space travel which are also typed into the game’s online chat window.

No Man’s Sky is an online open world exploration game, where the player discovers and catalogues planets and their flora and fauna, which are procedurally generated by the game’s engine. During the performance I look for the possibility to resist space exploration, an act which is counter-intuitive to the game’s objective. I leave traces inside the game, for other players of the game to see during or after my performance. My screen capture as well as the footage from a camera pointing my face is broadcasted in the venue.

Dominant contemporary narratives about outer space travel render outer space, planets, asteroids etc. solely as resources to be exploited. In the field of science fiction, as well as in the discourses of real-world space exploration, outer space becomes a domain where colonial imaginations of the Other are reproduced and re-projected. The positioning of outer space as the “final frontier” facilitates ideas of conquest and exploitation; as language, imagery and representations of colonialism are evoked again in the realm of outer space, thus providing an “escape” narrative which works ideologically in the favor of legitimization of capitalist production modes on earth. These issues relate directly to my ongoing doctoral research and with this performance I seek to investigate further the ideas that are critical of space exploration and largely absent in mainstream discourses about the present and future of human space exploration.

Click here to view the remains of this cancelled presentation on Research Catalogue

Eren İleri (born 1988, Istanbul) is an artist and a researcher, working with photography, found material and artist books. He co-founded the artist collective YxS KOOP which organized public interventions, workshops and exhibitions in Istanbul, Berlin, Vienna and participated in the Sinop Biennial in 2014. He is one half of Well Gedacht Publishing, a DIY publishing house dedicated to artist’s publications in various forms. He is currently a PhD student at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.