The fourteen-foot diameter mylar balloon hanging in the Donald W. Reynolds Grand Hall is a model for a future artwork by contemporary artist Trevor Paglen. In partnership with the Nevada Museum of Art and in collaboration with aerospace engineers, Paglen proposes to launch a similar balloon into orbit as a purely artistic gesture.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, The Last Pictures explores the one hundred images collected by artist/geographer Paglen , to be etched onto an ultra-archival, golden silicon disc to be sent into orbit onboard the Echostar XVI satellite in 2012, as both a time capsule and a message to the future. Inspired in part by ancient cave paintings, nuclear waste warning signs, and Carl Sagan's Golden Records of the 1970s, the selection of 100 images, which are the centerpiece of the book, was influenced by four years of interviews with leading scientists, philosophers, anthropologists, and artists about the contradictions that characterize contemporary civilizations. Thus, the book engages some of the most profound questions of the human experience, provoking discourse about communication, deep time, and the economic, environmental, and social uncertainties that define our historical moment.