Preparing to be the first artist to travel to space, Michael Najjar has traveled to numerous spaceports, including the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA all the way to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. He’s met with multiple scientists, engineers and astronauts and visited space laboratories around the globe constructing new spacecraft, satellites and telescopes. His collaboration has given him access to privileged locations that are usually unknown to, and unseen by, the public. Blending art, science and technology in his series outer space, Michael’s images taken with the H4D and H6D-100c document moments along the way in his preparation for space flight as he shows us just how much Earth and our solar system are interconnected.

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As an ongoing series that started in 2011, outer space began with the final launch of the American Space Shuttle Atlantis. Currently comprised of 50 photographic and 5 video artworks, Michael’s project focuses on the latest developments in space exploration and the way they will shape our future here on Earth. The project has been highly dependent on gaining access to high-security areas that are usually prohibited to the public. Being granted entry can take years of discussion for photographing at certain laboratories and space centers. Alongside photographing these locations, Michael experiences situations as part of his journey that provide inspiration behind his shots in preparation for his future flight to space as the first artist to do so; this includes a grueling series of training sessions such as zero gravity flights, centrifugal spins, and underwater space-walk training in a heavy astronaut suit.

IGNITION (2019)

The Russian Soyuz rocket is now the world's most used space launcher with over 1800 flights since its debut in 1966, far more than any other rocket launcher. ignition visualises a Soyuz launcher taking off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 5 April 2019. The picture captures the rocket at the exact moment it leaves the launch pad. To capture this unique image, a sound-triggered camera was installed directly on top of the launch tower a mere 80 meters from the rocket during its lift-off phase. No camera has ever been installed before at such close range on a launch pad of the Spaceport. The composition highlights the single interactive dynamic system formed by the launch pad, the support brackets and the rocket itself during the first seconds of ignition and lift-off.

CAMERA: HASSELBLAD H4D-60
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/800 SEC
FOCAL LENGTH: 28MM
APERTURE: F/11
CAMERA: HASSELBLAD H4D-60
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/125 SEC
FOCAL LENGTH: 150MM
APERTURE: F/11

DESERT SKY (2014)

desert sky portrays an out-of-this-world environment from the central region of the Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the most arid places on Earth. The Mars-like landscape is one of the world’s best sites to look into the universe. This image was taken from the summit of the Cerro Armazones Mountain at an altitude of 3,060 meters. The E-ELT, a cutting-edge next generation telescope, will be built on the peak of this mountain. The telescope will have a diameter of 39m, consist of 798 mirror segments and be the largest telescope in the world. The little building in the center of the image is an observation station that has long been measuring the moisture in the atmosphere. The picture was taken from the exact spot where this new telescope will be built.

VOID SPACE (2016)

void space shows the 58m tall, 137m wide and 31m large assembly hall at Europe´s CSG spaceport in French Guiana. Inside this building an Ariane 5 launcher rocket is taking shape, although this image was photographed shortly after the rocket left the building. The photograph focuses on the enormous complexity of the 80,000m³ architectural structure needed to work on multiple horizontal and vertical levels to build the vehicle. The structure includes three main and dozens of secondary mobile levels. By showing the assembly hall without the rocket at center stage, the work space itself becomes an architectural playground waiting to be documented.

CAMERA: HASSELBLAD H4D-60
SHUTTER SPEED: 1 SEC
FOCAL LENGTH: 28MM
APERTURE: F/11

KINETIC DRIFT (2014)

kinetic drift explores the process of lack of spatial awareness, which occurs in a microgravity environment. Without a stable gravitational reference point, astronauts experience unexpected changes in their sense of verticality. This image illustrates a Zero-G flight taken by Michael in October 2013 at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. Michael goes through the kinetic drift during a parabolic flight in a Russian Ilyushin IL-76. Over the course of 10 periods of floating in weightlessness and spatial disorientation, he captured a series of photos of the space around him, using this to make a digital reconstruction of the spatial environment.

CAMERA: HASSELBLAD H4D-60
SHUTTER SPEED: 2 SEC
FOCAL LENGTH: 50MM
APERTURE: F/16

SUPREMATIST SATELLITE (2016)

suprematist satellite was made as a tribute to the futuristic vision of Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich, who created his vision of suprematist satellites in 1920. Especially with regard to their aesthetic appearance, today’s satellites can be considered as abstract sculptures. Drawing on dozens of photographs taken at the S5 Satellite Assembly Building at Spaceport French Guiana, this image is a digital reconstruction which illustrates the technical complexity of a satellite. The visual composition of the work anticipates the futuristic weightless environment of the satellite.

CAMERA: HASSELBLAD H4D-60

ORBITAL ASCENT (2016)

orbital ascent features the historic launch on 17 November 2016 of the Ariane 5 Rocket at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), the European spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. The spaceport is a high-tech facility surrounded by the Amazonian forest which creates a thrilling, surrealistic setting with its blend of a lush environment, the surface of Earth, and space exploration and its technologies.

CAMERA: HASSELBLAD H4D-60
CAMERA: HASSELBLAD H6D-100C
SHUTTER SPEED: 64 SEC
FOCAL LENGTH: 80MM
APERTURE: F/16

SIMULACRUM (2018)

simulacrum shows the Large Space Simulator at ESA´s Test Centre ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. The chamber is an extremely complex architectural structure formed by a vertical and a horizontal cylinder. The Simulator's high-performance pumps create a vacuum one billion times lower than our standard sea level atmosphere while liquid nitrogen circulating around the simulator approximates the cryogenic temperatures of space, and an array of powerful xenon lamps reproduce the unfiltered sunlight encountered in Earth’s orbit.

I work very often with extremely large formats in my exhibitions. The incredible image quality and the super high resolution of the Hasselblad H camera are critical for my photoshoots and post production process. But the high resolution would be nothing without the precision of the lenses, so it´s the whole package that makes Hasselblad cameras so unique.

ABOUT MICHAEL NAJJAR

Contemporary German artist Michael Najjar approaches art with an interdisciplinary mindset as he re-examines the potential of images by constantly reconstructing time and space. This is done through a wide range of techniques seen in his thematically-focused series. Michael studied at the bildo Academy of Arts in Berlin from 1988 – 1993 where he received intensive training in conceptional and interdisciplinary art practices. He is one of Virgin Galactic´s Pioneer Astronauts and will be the first artist in space. See more of his work here.

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