Space voyage in Barcelona

FROM BARCELONA TO MARS AND THE STARS, DEPARTURE NOW

1 April, 2021
Cultural life

Are you dreaming of traveling far, far away from home? Dream big! Embark today on Unison Routes‘s interplanetary voyage.

Barcelona is the starting point of our first space mission to the stars above. We will take you to Mars, for a one-of-a-kind special tour of the red planet.

“Mars” by Gustav Holst (1874 – 1934) is our musical suggestion today. Enjoy his thunderous symphonic music while you read this post. It might well remind you of the Star Wars soundtracks.

A Martian exhibition at the Barcelona Center of Contemporary Culture (CCCB)

Our launching pad is placed at the Barcelona Center of Contemporary Culture (CCCB).

CCCB is an Arts and Cultural Center located in the heart of the Raval neighborhood, within the premises of the former 18th-century Casa de la Caritat dels Àngels almshouse.

For more than two decades now, CCCB has been generating debate and reflection on the themes of the city, public space and contemporary issues among the local and international public with its exhibitions, concerts, debates, festivals and film cycles.

With a view to finding connections between science, culture and art, the exhibition “Mars, the Red Mirror” was unveiled a few weeks ago at CCCB.

The Barcelona Center of Contemporary Culture, courtyard.
The CCCB complex, designed by architects Helio Piñón and Albert Viaplana.

Mars in the ancient world

Mars, the second smallest planet in the solar system, is named after the Roman god of war, known as Ares by the ancient Greeks.

Such a warlike name wants to reflect the oxide red color of the planet, reminiscent of the blood, shed in the battle fields.

The red planet, besides the part it plays in the Greco-Roman heritage, also has an important role in the Chinese, Babylonian, Egyptian, Hindu, Jewish and other ancient cultures.

The Roman deiety Mars.
The Roman god of war Mars, known as Ares by the Greek.

Mars and astronomy, from antiquity to modernity

The sky above us has always attracted the human race and we know today that astronomy started evolving already in the ancient Sumerian and Egyptian cultures, thousands of years ago.

Still in antiquity, Ptolemy wrote the Almagest, which remained for more than a thousand years the uncontested canon on astronomy.

Modernity came much later, with the astronomical discoveries of Copernicus, Galileo Galilei and Kepler, to mention but a few.

They brought about revolutionary knowledge on Mars and the solar system in general, not necessarily well received in those times!

Galileo was suspected of heresy because of his astronomical writings and spent the rest of his life on house arrest, after retracting his conception.

Scientific advances Vs. scientific misconceptions

It was especially in the 19th century and at the turn of 20th when, thanks to much more advanced technology, our knowledge of Mars grew much faster.

As a consequence, the general public became more interested and even excited in what’s out there, beyond our planet.

The interest, strange as it may sound, was also caused by scientific misconceptions, in one case occasioned by a mistranslation of Schiapparelli’s astronomical observations.

Galileo Galilei is one of the most important astronomers ever
Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642), portrayed here as extraterrestrial-eyed. He was the first astronomer to observe Mars with a telescope of his own make.

The desire to converse with other planets

The outstanding inventor Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest scientific icons ever, had also a very eccentric side.

For example, his great mind’s imagination was not immune to the growing fascination the Red Planet of his time.  

In 1899 he communicated that his Teslascope received signals from Mars.

Communicating with possible extraterrestrial civilizations was a life-long obsession for Tesla.

Nikola Tesla, a brilliant inventor and scientist, said he received signals from Mars
Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943) wanted to talk with aliens living on other planets.

Mars, science fiction and human fantasy

Astronomical and scientific discoveries and misconceptions, and the innate fantasy of the human kind have fueled fantastic beliefs about life forms on Mars and other planets.

This gave rise to all sorts of imaginative shapes for Martians, naturally after the experience we, the human kind, have of our planet’s life forms.

Comic strips, novels such as the works of Ray Bradbury, and sci-fi movies delve into the world of imagination and, after all, serve as a mirror for humanity.

“…If flowers did not exist, would you be able to imagine them?” – Blu Vertigo

Aliens looking frightful and yet so similar to humans in shape
Aliens as imagined by Terrestrials.

Of science and art

Artists, as much as any person living in our societies may, were and are inspired by the scientific discoveries of the last centuries, using them as a source to shape their own creativity.

Among them, one should never forget to mention the universal Catalan Salvador Dalí, who saw in science and innovation the primary source of inspiration for his artwork.

In the 1980s, he even organized a symposium on Art and Science at the Theater Museum Dalí in Figueres.

Mars today

Even though the Space Race inevitably slowed down towards the end of the Cold war, Mars has never stopped being a high priority on the agenda of Space Agencies.

Right now the USA, China, the United Emirates, the EU and Russia have on-going interplanetary programs and missions.

On a mission, exploring Mars
A rover, exploring Mars.

The Mars 2020 rover mission’s recent successful landing has renewed the interest of the general public in the last months. We can now see color photos and videos of Mars… amazing!

As we wait for the Tianwen-1 and the Emirates Mars Mission to also land on Mars, will past or even present life be discovered there in the next months or years?  

It’s a thrill that goes down our spines and we feel it in all our sinews. 

Mars tomorrow… Mother Mars?

We are facing today a very challenging climatic crisis on planet Earth.

We clearly have proved so far unable to manage our own planet, so… how could we even think of settling on Mars, let alone making it inhabitable?

However, science advances incessantly and the uncertainties of today may become new opportunities for tomorrow.

What’s new today is that even private enterprises have their own space programs.

Will the visionary Elon Musk’s Space X project succeed in achieving what one hundred years ago was just an impossible dream?

A Mars settlement of the future, imagined today
Planning to become a settler of Mars? (From E. Musk’s X-Space project).

If we manage not to destroy ourselves and stop yet another extinction on the Earth, we may well start out an interplanetary civilization in the next centuries.

Or maybe… would we even earlier than that?

Visit “Mars the Red Mirror” soon!

You can visit the exhibition “Mars, the Red Mirror” until July 11th 2021. The best way to do it, for both Terrestrials and Martians, is to book an a la carte private tour with us.

Coda, more music for space voyaging

Did you like Gustav Holst’s “Mars”? Check out the entire “the Planetssuite, dedicated to the planets of the solar system.

On the other hand, are you a rock music fan as we do? If so, you don’t want to miss David Bowie’s harmonic masterpiece “Life on Mars”, the anthem of all space missions by definition!

His “Ziggy Stardust”, “Space Oddity” and “Starman” are other odes to the outer space that will provide you with very extraterrestrial soundscapes. 

Also tune to the throbbing beat of “Life on Mars” by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Finally, if you want to indulge us a little more, listen to Blu Vertigo’s “Altre forme di vita” (Other life forms).

Naturally, there’s so much space rock out there that we can’t possibly mention it all.

Any song or symphony related to Mars and the Stars that you love and we did not mention?

Do not keep it for yourself. Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

3 thoughts on “FROM BARCELONA TO MARS AND THE STARS, DEPARTURE NOW

  1. Roberto
    1 April, 2021
    Reply

    Very interesting & innovative

    • unison
      2 April, 2021
      Reply

      Thank you so much!

      Remember, the exhibition can be visited until July 11th!

  2. Alba
    4 April, 2021
    Reply

    Que original!!!

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