Opportunity Abstraction


In 2004 two remote-controlled rover vehicles landed to explore and record the surface of Mars. “Opportunity” was the name of the second vehicle and this work brings back its virtual double, “Opportunity Rover Too,” in augmented reality, down through a university campus tower in downtown NYC to search the “land of opportunity” on earth. Rover Too reflects the world around it through Google Street View while the center of the vehicle retains  Martian imagery. Viewed from the interior, constantly moving intersecting imagery abstracts and blinds the viewer from the surrounding view. The work contemplates the intersection of contemporary notions of space; the physical, the virtual and astronomical. At the same time, it calls to question notions of “opportunity,” its meanings for the ideals of space exploration as the possibilities of elsewhere or what it means for narrowing economic prospects in the US today. The rover also functions as a automatic generator of abstract imagery, updating some of the Dadaist notions of mechanical vision to an era of computer-generated aesthetics.

This video compilation documents and expands on a 2014 exhibition at a Pace University gallery entitled, “Opportunity Rover Too.” The work includes three large-scale different viewpoint projections of the augmented reality Rover Too as it descends through the Pace University tower building and lands in the gallery space. The live views double the experience of the gallery, its viewers and the coinciding virtual scene.

The soundtrack for the video includes recorded sounds from the Mars Rovers, NASA Opportunity Rover development and operation crews, business opportunity assessment discussions, computer abstraction programming, and excerpts from monologues by British abstract op artist, Bridget Riley.

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