The Mattress Factory Art Museum, Pittsburgh. April 26, 2008 – January 11, 2009
For this work Strachan has created an interior, diorama-like space resembling the charred and coal-covered landscape of a dead star that can be viewed only remotely from an observation station located outside the museum. He worked with scientists at Carnegie Mellon and Yale Universities to create a rover that inhabits the space and transmits information about itself and its surroundings to the live-feed data command center outside, as well as receives instructions from the center. The rover, named Robbie after Robert L. Lawrence, the first African-American astronaut killed during training, is considered by the artist to be an an autonomous being navigating this lonely landscape.
The command center houses controls for the rover—an 8-channel receptor, satellites, computers, monitors, and antennae—and, in addition to receiving data from Robbie, also sends instructions every five to seven minutes through automatic feedback.
This is the first exhibition in a long-term, multi-phased project that the artist has begun, “The Orthostatic Tolerance.” The next phase is for Strachan to complete actual cosmonaut training at the Yuri Gagarin training facility in Star City, Russia (7–14 September, 2008).