Imagine a world some time in the semi-distant future where space travel is a banal indulgence not unlike a luxury cruise. What would you do upon stepping on Mars soil, an astronaut helmet over your head and Earth but a small speck in the distance.
Be real, would you take a selfie? It would get soooooo many likes.
French photographer Julien Mauve juxtaposes the looming potential of space exploration with the stereotypical actions of earthly tourists in his narrative series "Greetings From Mars." The sci-fi photos combine alien landscapes with behavior that's all too familiar -- performing for the camera, inserting oneself into foreign landscapes, and striking a pose.
"I've been fascinated with Mars since I was a child," Mauve explained to The Huffington Post. "I can picture myself back in college making presentations about it. We hear a lot about NASA, Elon Musk and SpaceX these days. Mars One also, the company that offers people a one way ticket to establish the first human colony on Mars (and intend to create a TV show out of it). Space exploration and colonization is the greatest adventure of the century and the fact that we may witness it in our life-time makes it even more exciting."
Mauve couples the possibility of space tourism in the future with the reality of social media influence in the present. "We've literally developed a new language to communicate emotions through pictures and that really fascinates me," the artist said, identifying smartphones as the technology that allows us to write our own stories in real time.
"In the mean time, Earth has become really small. We are only 12 hours and $800 away from the other side of the world. Those easy traveling conditions have made tourism a lucrative activity. People can visit and enjoy places we would have never imagined only 50 years ago... Once transportation issues will be solved and if we don't encounter any massive disaster, space tourism for middle class people is something we can imagine happening in less than 100 years."
Mauve's series offers a wonderfully deadpan view of the red planet, with anonymous explorers eager to survey the grounds, and, possibly more importantly, document the process. "It's an observation of our current behaviors and a projection of what we hope for the future," he explained. "I'm not trying to stick to the scientific truth."
Of his series, he explains the setting: "It's a couple experiencing Mars as tourists for the first time and sharing their experience through photographs. They include themselves in front of those landscapes and affirm their presence but the funny thing is that we don't see their faces. It could be anyone in those suits and, in fact, it goes against the original purpose of taking a selfie or souvenir pictures. It was also a way to illustrate this endless pursuit of self-definition we seek with pictures."
Check back with us in 100 years to see if Mauve's grim prediction has come to life. If so, please let us know what filters look best in space. Thanks.