The New Colonists
by Monica Alcazar-Duarte
With an essay by Marek Kukula & commentary by
Dr Ian Crawford

Publication date: November 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9955238-1-4
Price: £30
Binding:Hard cover swiss bound
Extent: 120pp
+ 12 pp booklet

Trim size:177x240mm (portrait)
Photographs: 80 full colour
Text: English

Augmented Reality: The New Colonists app is available to download from the app store.

Artist's website:

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The New Colonists, a project in three parts, begins by presenting the uncanny suburban town of Mars in Pennsylvania, USA. Steeped in midnight tones, her quotidian documentations of gas stations, football fields and fast food joints transport viewers to a time, place and feeling of all American life, but more importantly, human life. The work is imbued with a sense of western normality - whilst hinting to an otherworldly undertone beyond these images.

Interrupting the quietness of small town America captured in the book are 5 additional sequences of images, which are inserted into this suburban narrative, chronicling the research and individual scientists who are attempting to make colonising the red planet a reality.

Placed at key intersections in the book, Alcazar-Duarte’s contrasting documentary images capture everything from the top space travel technology in the European Space Agency, to the terrestrial ‘Mars Yards’, where robotic rovers are put through their paces in artificial landscapes of rock and sand. Meanwhile, would-be astronauts are tested against the rigours of a future Mars mission, confined for months at a time to enclosed habitats in inhospitable places such as polar deserts, Hawaiian lava fields, or even an industrial estate outside Moscow.

These efforts take place in the most down-to-Earth of locations and circumstances as well as the most sophisticated, but all of these scientists are, or will be, leading the construction of a new future in a far land.

The third component of the book consists of an “Augmented Reality Portal”. Using an app designed by Paul Ferragut, readers are invited to search for and discover embedded footage and sound within the book’s pages. Through this ‘portal’ viewers encounter a new knowledge. The videos feature 3-D animations of spy satellites and space colonies by Levan Tozashvili as well as narration from Dr Ian Crawford, Professor of Planetary Science and Astrobiology at Birkbeck. Within this interview Crawford presents his ideas on Space colonisation. And the notions of “space law” and “space ethics”.

The New Colonists celebrates the zeal, creativity and resilience of the people behind the initial efforts our society is making towards this next phase in History. It encourages us to look to the far future with eyes wide open, with an imperative need to resolve legal loopholes, allowing space exploration to proceed in a peaceful and balanced way.

"Alcazar-Duarte’s straightforward yet atmospheric documentary images of everyday life in Mars have a certain alienating quality. The complimentary segments focusing on the scientific preparations for life on Mars, the planet, meanwhile hint at the ongoing, human need for disclosure of unknown terrain. Both these elements – our preoccupation with an extra-planetary expedition and the imagined extraterrestrial observation of us – are smartly interwoven in this publication, beautifully designed by Ramon Pez."
- Erik Vroons, 1000 Words Magazine

"As well as focusing on this high-cost, high-stakes and high-tech endeavour, the book is also about the everyday, as embodied by the town of Mars, Pennsylvania.
By examining these two seemingly opposite subjects, Alcazar-Duarte renders "normal" life strange and extraordinary, and the rarified world of science accessible and fallible. The book's third layer is an "augmented reality portal" – an app designed to allow readers to discover information about space hidden in its pages."

-Bruno Bayley, Vice Magazine

"A book of juxtapositions, The New Colonists is a celebratory and fascinating series of images. Through its beautifully considered design, the book presents the breadth of Monica’s research and interaction with this exciting world in an altogether fitting manner."
- Ruby Boddington, It's Nice That

"We use technological methods to extend our human view into space by sending spacecraft and telescopes to look further than we could physically go," Alcazar-Duarte continues. "I wanted to provide a reflection of this by creating a technological viewing portal as part of the book."
- Interview on Huck Magazine

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