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  1. Heimat Is a Space in Time - Visions du Réel
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Heimat Is a Space in Time - Visions du Réel

The record is an improvement over the disastrous Watt, but hardly a sufficient one. Original album advertising art. Click image for larger view. The original material and arrangments are terribly lame. Vocal melodies and guitar lines are virtually indistinguishable from one song to the next and few arrangements highlight anything besides Alvin Lee and his two, three or four guitar parts.

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Chick Churchill's potential as an additional soloist, for example, is stupidly wasted by having him play only rhythm accompaniment on piano and organ behind Lee's numerous leads. Although bassist Leo Lyons and drummer Ric Lee provide the band with a foundation that is both workable and firm, Ten Years After does not use this rhythmic support to the best possible advantage. Heise loosely positions these documents from his personal archive in relation to black-and-white shots of the places they mention, as they look today.

Vienna is shown only by means of a tram ride, the footage filmed inside the vehicle, looking out through a rainy window. Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox. Cineuropa is the first European portal dedicated to cinema and audiovisual in 4 languages.

With daily news, interviews, data bases, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, Cineuropa aims at promoting the European film industry throughout the world. The tenuous cloud floats near the volcano's mouth, as if in prelude to an eruption. It's a picture composed of millions of dots and dashes of data, produced by a transmission technique just a few steps removed from Morse code; but it reveals a landscape the likes of which Samuel Morse, let alone the ranks of Earth-based astronomers who have surveyed the planets since well before Babylonian times, could scarcely have envisioned.

In case there was any doubt, many of those good old science-fiction predictions from the s and the s are coming true. But Asimov's sentient robots were frequently confused. Something always seemed to be going wrong with them, and the mayhem that followed could inevitably be traced back to a programming error by their human handlers—a situation not unfamiliar to those running NASA's Mars program, which was temporarily grounded after a catastrophic pair of failures in late The Mars Climate Orbiter was lost owing to the stark failure by one group of engineers to translate another group's figures into metric units of measurement, and the Mars Polar Lander because for some unfathomable reason its landing gear hadn't been adequately tested.

For all their formidable prescience, Asimov and his contemporaries Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein didn't quite conjure up that still-startling compound of populist forum, deep archive, and global amphitheater called the Internet.

I picture a packed arena of Romans, teeming and kaleidoscopic, at the height of the empire. They're savoring the gods'-eye view, watching the Red Planet turn. Would they have seen it as territory to conquer? Would they have sent in the legions? Mars, after all, was named after the Roman god of war, the father of Romulus and Remus. And what about our age—which way, in the end, will we go? A low hum resounds from the tiny fan recessed in my computer—a propeller venting warmth from the machinery of virtual travel. With rusty Martian sand dunes still undulating across the screen, I notice that outside, the Moon is rising over subzero Central Europe.

The city below it is quiet, subdued under snow. Beyond brick smokestacks a familiar cool light defines the icy sphere. A ghostly mass of battered rock, Earth's satellite is an archetypal solar-system object, with surface features echoing those of many of the planets and moons arrayed in far-flung archipelagos around the Sun.

But it's much more than that—at least in the human context. The longer one considers it, the more its tidal influence grows. Without that luminescent lure would there even have been a pull to leave this planet? Deciding to take a closer look, I accelerate away from Mars and shoot thirty years into the past—descending rapidly through the strata of the Apollo archives. I quickly find an excellent picture of a three-quarters moon, taken by a large-format mapping camera during one of the later manned missions, in the early s.

Almost the entire ravaged face is visible, with tactile gradations of surface texture readily apparent—craters edging gradually toward the terminator, that endlessly migratory line between day and night, and into darkness. There's a three-dimensional, convex quality to the image. But it looks somehow odd. I realize that I'm looking down at a lunar surface divided between the side always oriented toward Earth—the face with a face, so to speak—and the far side. Two of the familiar eastern mares, or seas, are situated here on the left side of the picture—in the hemisphere visible from Earth. On the right, facing deep space, well east of the immense circular basin of Mare Crisium, the battered back of the Moon is submerged in elongated shadows.

Suddenly, with a kind of vertigo, I sense the home planet, way off past the left border of the picture—and even myself, somewhere down there, at the age of ten, maybe looking up at the exact moment the shutter fell on Apollo I'm frozen in that same clockwork flux generated by the spheres as they move inexorably through space.

Looking out the window again here, now, a traveler on a winter's night , I realize that the Moon is in exactly the same phase. Between self, screen, and window, a kind of temporal triangulation. And what am I doing now, if not the same thing as then? Looking up, "just" in time.


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When I return to Earth, it's always to Ljubljana. As far as most of my New York friends are concerned, I already live in outer space. Slovenia has never exactly been at the center of things. It's not even at the center of that nebulous interzone called Central Europe. I came to this tiny nation of two million alpine Slavs shortly after its dangerous secession from Yugoslavia, in the summer of Ten days of intermittent, partisan-style war against the federal army had devolved into an uneasy cease-fire, periodically shattered by the rolling kettle-drum crash of MiGs breaking the sound barrier overhead.

But the army soon withdrew, rumbling southeast toward Croatia and Bosnia, with a kind of murderous, humiliated gleam in its eye. It left behind an independent—and remarkably unscathed—new country. I moved to this fringe of the disastrous Balkans to make a film. When I finally finished, four years later, I remained based in Hapsburg-perfect Ljubljana while I took the resulting movie—called Predictions of Fire — to festivals all over the world. Meanwhile, I got involved in various projects and lives.

Then I got married—and eventually had a son. The time never seemed right to move back to New York. Without quite realizing it, I had become an expatriate. But it didn't take me long to discover that it was possible to go even further out. In the spring of , on the early color monitor of a used IBM clone, the World Wide Web blinked to life on my desktop for the first time.

I quickly proceeded past the novelty of being able to read The New York Times while most of Manhattan slept, and discovered a way of looking through the "windows" of crewless spacecraft—vessels that have seen Earth dwindle to the size of a pearl, and then a pixel, as they voyaged far beyond any place ever directly observed by human beings. Very far beyond. It takes only the briefest of Net-mediated shunts, in other words, to vault from the slate-gray drainpipes and cracked flagstones of Vrhovceva Street No. The procedure is silent, with none of the countdown, dazzle, and roar we associate with rocket propulsion.

But it works flawlessly nonetheless. And once one has escaped Earth's gravity, the universe unfolds, revealing vistas across space and time so multi-faceted, so replete with the unlikely, the mysterious, and the awe-inspiring, that it's astonishing that the whole procedure can be channeled through the good offices of a local phone call.

Suddenly, on the screen as in reality, I saw the whole story—the human and even the post-human story—delineated against a vast, starry black backdrop. Forget the astronauts, marooned in low Earth orbit for three decades. A continual remote-controlled extension of boundaries is under way. Intricate space probes—encased in scarabaeoid shells, festooned with scopes and scanners, and driven by solar-powered cells and radio-isotope thermo-electric generators—are redefining the limits of human knowledge.

Deployed at the perimeter, they're casting wide-eyed glances and making sophisticated measurements, well past any terra incognita where sea monsters once seethed through oceans pouring off the rim of a flat planet. Pretty soon I was hooked. I began compulsively monitoring the progress of our space-faring machines. That moon, rising implacably over Ljubljana, has long since ceded center stage.


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  • It defined the first act, but now it's a cameo, backlit by the immense universe beyond. It played its role well, though, using its small gravitational field to full advantage, gradually reeling the species off Earth to have a look around. At the beginning of the fifth decade of space travel the various tools for that investigation have increased their power in exponential jumps.

    What they're looking at is astonishing in its depth and diversity. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is in charge of all American unmanned missions, is keeping tabs on a record number of space probes these days. They include the joint NASA-European Space Agency solar observatory, which has been producing amazing stop-motion films of quakes and tornadoes on the Sun for more than six years now, and the giant two-story spacecraft Cassini , which has been threading a circuitous course toward Saturn ever since its launch, in October of Cassini swung past Venus twice, picking up gravity-assisted momentum each time, and then boomeranged around Earth again on its seven-year flight to the ringed planet.

    On January 1 of last year the probe sent home one of the most beautiful color photographs ever taken of Jupiter and its companion moon Io. A behemoth compared with most of the other new probes, Cassini was designed well before the advent of the "faster, better, cheaper" doctrine that the former NASA administrator Daniel S.

    Goldin introduced, with some fanfare, in the early s. It has been under heavy bureaucratic scrutiny recently, owing to the loss of those two Mars probes in Still, NASA's Discovery-class missions were run according to this doctrine, and the program has racked up some real successes. They include Global Surveyor , which recently completed a photographic map of the Red Planet to rival the best we have of Earth, and Pathfinder , which created something of a media sensation back in Pathfinder bounced down on the Martian surface using a set of inflated air bags, the first time such a landing method had been attempted.

    It then opened its multiple petals like a mechanized flower and proceeded to roll out a telegenic, insectoid little rover named Sojourner— without a doubt the most charismatic unmanned vehicle in NASA history. In early , in an event largely ignored by the mainstream media, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory eased a Discovery probe called NEAR for Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous into orbit around a twenty-one-mile-long peanut-shaped, methodically tumbling rock called Eros. NEAR was the first spacecraft ever to orbit an asteroid—no inconsiderable feat of celestial navigation, given that Eros has a gravity field so weak that an astronaut on its surface could reach escape velocity by simply jumping off.

    A year later project scientists maneuvered the probe to within a few hundred yards of its subject and then directed it to touch down gently. NEAR thus became the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid.

    A Space in Time

    NEAR hasn't performed flawlessly. Not unlike an adolescent confronting the object of his or her erotic fascination for the first time, the spacecraft suddenly flipped out during its initial approach to Eros, in December of Cut off from communication with Earth, acting on its own, the probe's computer managed to re-orient the spinning craft. But by the time the JPL flight engineers had figured out what went wrong, they were forced to send their charge all the way around the Sun again—a year-long trajectory—for another try. They wouldn't have been able to do so if NEAR hadn't straightened up and flown right all by itself.

    There's something fascinating about the increasing autonomy of these robots with which we're populating the heavens. In late fall an e-mail came to me from the JPL—something again automatic, sent through that other universe, the one made of innumerable routers and chips. The phrasing itself was intriguing—even if we were not yet talking about political orientation. If I didn't know better, I might have begun to suspect that a kind of baton-passing was taking place, far beyond the atmosphere. From flesh-and-blood us to nuts-and-bolts them. Science fiction? Sifting through a self-congratulatory final press release archived at the Mars Pathfinder site, I was suddenly, unexpectedly, moved.


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    • Contact with the lander was lost, it said, in early October of That was after nearly three months of continuous operation—much longer than expected. The loss of communication was attributed to the failure of the lander's battery, which in turn cut power to the heater. Eventually, the cold or the cycling would probably render the lander inoperable. But little Sojourner is almost entirely solar-powered.

      It was just as animated as ever when all contact with Earth was lost. I came across the following sentence: "The health and status of the rover is The poignancy of it! The pathos! Powered forever by the inexhaustible Sun, impervious to the cold, Sojourner may to this day be wearing grooves in that ocherous desert floor. And we've forgotten our cybernetic creation, literally leaving it to its own devices.

      Having chipped, hammered, glued, and then welded and screwed together the matter we're surrounded with, we've finally endowed it with eyes, ears, and a capacity for self-direction—something like early life itself. We've propelled it at extreme velocities to distances that redefine how far human artifacts can go. And we've left it to circle, or even to beeline out of the solar system—still seeking orders, still trying to communicate with us. A few years ago I happened to be scrolling along the bone-dry branchings of a newly discovered Martian riverbed when a small headline started winking on and off like an insistent neon sign, advertising a live feed of the Mars Polar Lander launch.

      I steered my arrow over to the Real Player icon next to it and clicked. The thing was approximately the size of a matchbox. From the virtuality of television to the next stage: the TV itself becomes virtual. This miniature screen-within-a-screen filled with what appeared to be a close-up of Earth's surface: not grass and soil, or the heaving Pacific, but staggered gray concrete and an elaborate web of girders, ramps, and drifting smoke.

      Evidently the camera was mounted on the lower stage of a rocket. I was looking directly down at Cape Canaveral launch pad 17B. A tinny countdown issued forth from my computer's speakers, and I watched the grainy yet kinetic, comically Lilliputian live launch of that ill-fated robotic mission.

      Tongues of bright-orange flame flared out, filling the bottom of my stamp-flat TV. The ground rushed away, rapidly becoming coastline and then cloudscape. I clicked on the magnifying-glass icon to enlarge the toy picture, which expanded to fill half the screen. The image now verged on abstraction, a scramble of "compression protocols" trying frantically to keep up with the fast-paced reality of a rocket blasting through the sound barrier and out of the atmosphere just like that.

      The arc of Earth's limb appeared—immediately recognizable, as if coded in ancestral memory.

      A Space In Time

      Sixty-six seconds after liftoff four pencil-shaped solid-fuel boosters separated from the Delta II rocket and fell gracefully away, trailing streamers of smoke as they spiraled back toward Florida. The curved horizon was defined by the inky blackness of space. Ironically, this image of our home planet had a far lower resolution than do the crisp pictures Surveyor has been wiring back from Mars.

      That's because time had been added to space; it was, at least nominally, a motion picture, and a live one at that. Fascinated by this example of technique chasing technology, of software trailing hardware, I watched our pixelated planet, a spinning blue globe forced continually to reassemble itself as blocks of Atlantic cloud moved lumpily forward. Data coursed through the modem with a barely discernible thrumming sound, something like the brrrrrr of a hummingbird's wings.