On Tuesday, Azuma and a 10-person crew launched two botanical objects into the upper atmosphere for his new collaborative project titled “Exobiotanica,” or extraterrestrial plant life. The arrangement above is titled “Shiki 1,” a Japanese white pine bonsai suspended from a metal frame. The untitled one below is made from an arrangement of orchids.
To get the arrangements into space, Azuma teamed up with JP Aerospace and headed to the Nevada desert. They were attached to metal frames and and helium baloons and set aloft, with a still camera and six GoPro cameras tied in a ball.
The balloons traveled for almost two hours before bursting. The bonsai and the flowers were never recovered. But using GPS trackers, the cameras attached to parachutes were.
John Powell for JP Aerospace told T magazine: “The best thing about this project is that space is so foreign to most of us … so seeing a familiar object like a bouquet of flowers flying above Earth domesticates space, and the idea of traveling into it.”
The images evoke the delicacy of life amid the harsh and vast beauty of the universe. On his Web site, Azuma wrote he wants to see what beauty is born when the arrangements are freed from “command of gravity.” He explained to T magazine: “I wanted to see the movement and beauty of plants and flowers suspended in space … I am using brightly colored flowers from around the world so that they contrast against the darkness of space.”