Explore Space (and Earth) With These Tiny, Magical Scenes
Voyager 1 is exploring interstellar space 12 billion miles from the sun. The probe left Earth in 1977 and is expected to run out of power by 2025. Yet even then, it will press on, carrying with it a golden record containing images and recordings that convey the diversity of life on Earth.
That record, which really is plated in gold, is meant to tell extraterrestrial civilizations about humanity. It is a textbook, and for photographer Bill Finger, a reminder that travelers often look back in yearning at what they’ve left behind. “It’s only natural that packed along with your belongings is a certain longing for where you came from,” he says.
This idea permeates Voyager, Finger’s series of fanciful travel scenes interspersed with photos of home. The dreamy, faraway feel of his images inspire nostalgia and contemplation. He calls it “an introspective exploration of exploration.”
Space has intrigued Finger since childhood, when he pasted Apollo mission news clippings into a scrapbook. He became fascinated by Voyager 1 when it flew beyond the heliosphere into interstellar space, and by the thought of the record’s idealized representation of Earth.
Behind the scenes in Finder’s studio.
That prompted him create his own narrative about exploration and home. He couldn’t stage the scenes, of course, so Finger photographed dioramas. Glittery felt became a starry sky, a trashcan lid became the window of an airplane, bits of plastic and paper and wood became Voyager. The models aren’t perfect, but don’t have to be. “Photography hides a multitude of sins,” he says.
Finger photographed each set at least three times with his Nikon D800E, adjusting the lighting or positioning each item to convey the passage of time. He cropped the images in circles, bringing to mind the view through a telescope or porthole, and made the prints very small. The biggest is just 9 inches in diameter. “I like the idea of inviting the viewer to look into the image,” he says.
His images tell stories of fictional explorers and the homes they left behind. A naturalist sails past the Skellig Michael islands and thinks of his loved ones and sees their photos on the wall of the family home. And like Voyager, that imaginary man continues on, even as he looks back.
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