Dourmana Paradox

Dourmana Paradox

2010, installation

The installation consists of a customized Martin MAC 250 projector, four CCTV cameras, and a TV monitor hooked to a quad video processor.

In the early 50s when working on a nuclear reactor project the eminent physicist Fermi formulated his famous paradox about existence of alien civilizations. It says that even very small probability of such existence spread over the huge number of solar systems (300 billion only in our galactic) means that such civilizations definitely exist. But this is in contradiction with the fact that we have not found any evidences yet.

This led the artist to formulate another paradox - the Dourmana Paradox. It reads: though it might be more likely to find extraterrestrials in space than on earth, if one compares the immense resources needed for spatial research with the resources needed to find them on the Earth the second approach is much more efficient.

Therefore this project focuses on sending friendly visual communication signs in public spaces to establish contact with the aliens around. The signals used are simple and demonstrate good intentions and hospitality - for example symbols showing directions to public toilets, or suggesting parking places for flying saucers.

The technology used for producing signals to the aliens is based on the concept of the Optical SETI program that is seen as the most promising development of the current SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program. It is based on the fact that light signals travel much faster than radio signals the latter can take tens of hundreds of years to reach an average solar system in our galactic and the same amount of time for the extraterrestrial responses to come back. If spotting for example selected solar systems in our galactic with a laser infrared beam it will appear there many times brighter than the light of our Sun.

For the project a Martin MAC 250 device (like the one used in most night clubs) is heavily modified to project only in the infrared part of the spectrum that is invisible for the bare human eye but can be seen with CCTV, Night Vision Devices (NVC) or other sensitive in infrared devices. The modified MAC 250 device is installed in a public space close to TV sets that are connected to CCTV cameras.

The project is inspired by John Carpenter’s movie They Live.

The installation was first presented at the exhibition "partition_2.0 / fake" at MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts in Debrecen, Hungary in 2010.

This video is captured live in real-time with infra-red camcorder and without any post-production or compositing.