Satoshi Takamatsu successfully produced the world’s first commercial shot in outer space, specifically in the Russian Module of the International Space Station (ISS). He enrolled in the Russian cosmonaut training program at the “Star City” training center near Moscow, and the filming was carried out by Russian cosmonauts on the ISS in communication with Takamatsu at the mission control center.
After this, Takamatsu and the people of Russia deepened their relationship through the space program, and he decided to undergo cosmonaut training at “Star City” in preparation for a stay on the ISS, a first for a Japanese civilian. He began 800 hours of training over eight months as a backup crew member for British singer Sarah Brightman’s planned orbital spaceflight mission. Upon successful completion of the training, which was to last from January to September 2015, he would be qualified as a backup crew member and certified as a cosmonaut by the Russian Federal Space Agency. However, in May 2015 Ms. Brightman suddenly announced the suspension of her training and her withdrawal from the mission. This unprecedented event meant that Takamatsu lost the partner for whom he was to serve as backup, and he was removed from the official crew. Takamatsu nonetheless completed the training program, passed all the tests, and participated in the graduation ceremony, but having lost his status as a backup crew member, he received a diploma that did not certify him as a cosmonaut.
This series of unexpected incidents and setbacks nearly caused Takamatsu to lose hope time and time again, but the bleaker the outlook became, the more single-mindedly Takamatsu concentrated on his camera while staying in “Star City.” Having lost his place in the official crew due to unavoidable circumstances, plagued with the anxiety of not knowing when he would be forced to leave “Star City,” he nonetheless remained driven by his fascination with space and took over 10,000 photographs. Images of rockets, spacesuits, and the Baikonur Cosmodrome convey this fascination, while images of the tranquil scenery of “Star City” and flowers blooming on the roadside convey affection for everyday life in Russia. Between January, when temperatures plummet to -30℃, and midsummer when they reach 30℃, Takamatsu documented “Star City” from a unique perspective, conveying an image that differs radically from our conventional conception of a space center.
His dream of earning official Russian accreditation as a cosmonaut was derailed by unforeseen circumstances, but Takamatsu found a new dream during his sojourn at “Star City.” Through his interactions with astronauts and cosmonauts, Takamatsu became convinced that seeing the Earth from space would be a truly mind-altering experience. Conventional photographs and videos shot from space thus far have scarcely made a powerful impact. Since Yuri Gagarin first went into space, approximately 500 others have followed in his footsteps, but not a single one has been a photographer or artist of any kind. Takamatsu saw great significance in his mission to shoot the Earth from space with the utmost realism enabled by state-of-the-art technology, and to deliver to terrestrial viewers “the closest possible simulation of the visual experience of seeing the Earth from space.”
According to Takamatsu, “Replicating the visual experience of seeing the Earth from space with an unprecedented degree of realism will bring about a change of consciousness for many viewers. It may awaken an intuitive sense of the symbiotic relationship among all inhabitants sharing this one planet, a sustainable awareness of the Earth as our precious home, and an instinctive opposition to war.” He continues, “By truly seeing, we broaden the horizons of our perception and arrive at new worldviews and ideas.”
Takamatsu realized that for him the point was not to acquire official accreditation from any particular space agency, and that the crucial question was not what he would become but what he would accomplish. This exhibition interweaves the dream that Takamatsu lost and the new dream he found, and represents the first step of his mission to bring his camera on a journey into space.