press release

“Understanding the financial impact of your next decision” and “Frühstücksfernsehen - thank you”, are both depictions of the space shuttle Challenger disaster from the 28th of January 1986, each image having been shot from a different angle. Following is a short historical synopsis of events: It was the 10th flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger and the twenty-fifth space shuttle mission. As the Challenger ascended something that wasn't expected occurred. Seventy-three seconds after lift-off the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all 7 crewmembers. Many factors contributed to the explosion. The temperature was 36°F at the launching site. After the Solid Rocket Boosters was ignited a thundering noise was heard. Pictures and video showed black smoke coming from the bottom field joint of the right Solid Rocket Booster. That suggested that an O ring was being burned. At 58.8 seconds after lift-off a small flame could be seen on the SRB with enhanced film a few seconds later it could be seen without enhanced film. More time passed by the flame grew bigger and the SRB was beginning to rotate freely and in less than 2 seconds the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. The Challenger was at a height of 46,000 feet when it exploded. The whit vapour that had been seen by everyone who had saw the explosion was a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen. The last time the Challenger had contact with NASA was at 73.62 seconds after launch. The main cause of the explosion consisted of two things. First the cold weather. Secondly failure of the aft joint seal in the right SRB.

My interest in this event comes from vaguely being able to remember it and the iconography that it has created around itself. There are certain people to whom you can show the image, and they will be able to tell you exactly what it is and where it originates. It has a sort of “best of…” quality although it represents a tragedy. The vapour forms that trail behind it remind me of cloud sculptures hooked up to fireworks – highly designed but with an element of uncontrollability and freedom.

The images that I used for “RASCAL” are of two satellites from the 1960’s, one being a satellite to investigate the power of the sun and the other a satellite to observe the sun. The title of the photograph of the satellite to observe the sun was “The worlds most complicated satellite” which it quite likely was at that time. I found the title charming and naïve which brought me on to looking at more up-to-date satellite technology. One of the more interesting areas is the launch procedure that is required to put satellites into orbit. (Here is the history…)

One procedure researched and developed by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was the Rapid Access Small Cargo Affordable Launch (RASCAL) system. This system was supposed to be a highly responsive, economical launch system capable of placing a 150 kg payload into low-Earth-orbit for $10,000 / kg and perform such launches at just 24 hours' notice. The RASCAL system consisted of a high-speed aircraft that climbed to an altitude of about 60 kilometres, where it would deploy an expendable rocket to place small satellites in orbit. Reusable aircraft were to be the launch platform and a significant feature of the RASCAL aircraft was the ability for exo-atmospheric flight (flight outside of the Earth's atmosphere). In February 2005 the DARPA cancelled their effort to develop the low-cost small launch vehicle that utilized a high-speed aircraft.

In some ways there is a touch of irony transmitted through calling the drawing “RASCAL”. In 2002 the RASCAL project was one of the most exciting launch programs around and by combining the visual information with the title, there is certainly an incoherence. Even now, three years later the RASCAL program has been cancelled which proves how many technological ideas are often phased out before even leaving a test stage or the R+D money is ciphered off to other areas that prove more viable.

New works for “Dinner with a Hostage” The photographs that I have used for the new drawings are firstly the Piper Alpha oilrig explosion in the North sea off Scotland. The accident took place in July 1988. Secondly, I have just about completed two drawings of burning oil fields in Kuwait (1990–91) and Iraq (2002–04). The are all linked to oil (petroleum), to safety standards, and to failing global resources.


only in german

Katja Davar "Dinner with a hostage"