Artists send a message to space with LOFAR

Large rolls of white vinyl tape are cut into pieces and glued to the black boxes of the telescope. The goal: to send a message to space.

“It reminds me of book covers,” laughs ASTRON principal Jessica Dempsey when she sees the telescope in action. She always hated book covers, but this artwork makes her heart beat faster.

“I’m really excited about the project,” says Dempsey. “Because there are very few occasions where science and art go together, while for me science is art. Art is a form of explaining science, which is also wonderful in the midst of nature.”

According to Dempsey, LOFAR is an ideal place to launch a message into space. “That’s my first thought when I heard about the project: The black boxes are like a canvas. What if we use them as a base?”

New Zealand artist Ilke Gers was asked for the project. Gers often created large-scale works of art. However, this work is still an experiment. “We’re still really looking at what we can do with the material. Tape is so rigid, it can’t bend. You can arrange it however you want, but what will it look like upstairs? We look forward to seeing what happens.”

Gers chooses tape because, unlike paint, it doesn’t seep into nature. “We don’t want to leave any traces.”

There will also be postcards with an aerial photograph. “As a visitor, you can then write your own message and send it on. This completes the circle.”

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