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An astronaut is tweeting from space, taking photographs of the earth and posting them live.

http://twitter.com/Astro_Soichi

The captions on photos initially suggested that he is trying to replicate the clear vision of google  “the first time London was not covered with cloud”, and there is always a tension between this clarity and his individual perspective from space, laced with clouds and at angles we don’t recognise from maps and images that adhere to north as top of image.   There is a dialogue between him and other twitter users ordinary things. The comments the images get are often mundane, ‘amazing photo’ ‘please photograph my city’ ‘awesome’, however occasionally an image will provoke speculation on pollution in a river, suggesting that seeing things from above can reveal wider social or environmental conditions.

Soichi also describes his tasks on board the space station. Comments like  ‘time for dinner at last’ put these images and their scale into perspective with everyday life and the ordinary. The liveness of these posts make them more compelling than google, and in a way brings the scale of the achievement closer where it becomes perhaps less amazing. Knowing that a single person took this photograph and posted it to twitter is powerful. And he’s responding to people’s requests, so that it has become a conversation between individuals, between earth and space.

I bought some slides taken in space from Skylab 3, from ebay a few months ago. They are faded and pink, appearing dated and nostalgic. One image I find particularly interesting is of a tornado over the Atlantic, the swirl of cloud obscures the earth as it spreads over its surface. The lack of clarity opens up space for a different interpretation, of more seperation from the lense. Where Soichi tweeting from space connects us directly, these slides and their partial views that are hard to read make the feat of being in space all the more mysterious and amazing, perhaps even something to be in awe of.

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