I have just returned from the International Astronautical Congress 2015, held in Jerusalem, Israel. It has been a very hectic week during which I met some very interesting artists working with Space. Every week for the next month or so, I will be posting an interview with the artists that I think are developing some great projects in this field of research.
This week our guest is Juan Jose Díaz Infante, who in 2010 started thinking of the possibility of sending a satellite into Space with an artistic and social message.
During your presentation I was really inspired by how you managed to bring together so many people to work on your artistic idea, creating a sort of Space agency. How did all start and eventually develop?



First we have to create a polaroid of the present, the last 5 years

Mexico going into a drugs wars, 100, 000 killed
USA provokes a world crisis through the mortgage fraud
Greece going bankrupt
Spain with 25% unemployment

Not one major guilty person of this situation is in jail, we do not save people, we prefer to save the money, banks are saved instead of countries

MY CRISIS, capacity of observation, passion and compassion

It started as a middle age crisis. The future was not here, mi future was not here. –we all should have constructive middle age crisis–
On the other hand I have seen my country deteriorate badly into a zone of violence an insecurity. A politician that is unable to handle wealth in silver and oil, a person only interested in preserving power can not arrive to space. The World is in crisis, Greece, Spain, Italy. It is time to redesign the future.
The decision was to do my own personal “space policy”. If a photographer can launch a satellite, reality can be changed.
In order to be coherent with my polaroid world´s situation, It had to be developed in Mexico, not bought to Japan or developed in Japan. The future of us as world depends in making nations like Africa or Latin America to go into the future. It is a local and a universal paradigm, if it works for Mexico it works anywhere. That is why the “authorship" of the Ulises I is a collective, The Mexican Space Collective. If you do not know how to work in a team or be a team you are out of the zone, you do not reach space. This concept applies to the world community, cooperation instead of competition. Space culture wisdom applied to world economics.
The launching of a satellite is the correct thing to do as far as the capabilities and needs of México. Having satellites has to do with the preservation of the language, country´s security, safe communications, etc.
Ulises I, a mission to space had to be a satellite. Our slogan “too much technology, very little imagination”
This very simple idea, a citizens idea, has grown into a group of over 75 people working, and 5 space missions in parallel

Why the idea of an art-satellite for Mexico, what is the social and artistic message you wish to convey with this project?


To choose a way of life is something that we struggle continuously. For me, any existence is about art, culture and poetry. Language. Contact with other civilization (alien or Earth bound) is a problem of good language on Earth, that is called poetry. (“They should have sent a poet” quote from the movie Contact)
In 1961, Huelsenbeck wrote his essay, “The agony of the artist” pointing out how our society is losing the sense of quality. A civilization without quality become insects.
Through my life I have done several reflections, like how hard is to write a scientific paper in Japanese: I produced an exhibition called “Atoms, anything else is an opinion” the works of Sho Takahashi…

Life is a collection of poetic actions.

To launch an art-satellite from Mexico is a poetic action. Being in Mexico is also being standing on the World. We are in the building of the Mexican Sputnik.


In 1957 the sputnik was a trigger of the imagination. The space race was born of a very simple action. ONE BIP

SPUTNIK at Wikipedia
'This surprise 1957 success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the Space Race, a part of the larger Cold War. The launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments.
Sputnik itself provided scientists with valuable information, even though it was not equipped with scientific instrument. The density of the upper atmosphere could be deduced from its dragon the orbit, and the propagation of its radio signals gave information about the ionosphere.
Sputnik 1 was launched during the International Geophysical Year from Site No.1/5, at the 5thTyuratam range, in Kazakh SSR (now at the Baikonur Cosmodrome). The satellite travelled at about 29,000 kilometres per hour (18,000 mph; 8,100 m/s), taking 96.2 minutes to complete each orbit. It transmitted on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz which were monitored by amateur radiooperators throughout the world. The signals continued for 21 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957. Sputnik 1 burned up on 4 January 1958, as it fell from orbit upon reentering Earth's atmosphere, after travelling about 70 million km (43.5 million miles) and spending 3 months in orbit? (Wikipedia).

We are duplicating the same action as a trigger of the imagination to provoke what we call “the other space race”.

The collective is a citizen group of enthusiasts. Ulises I generates a BIP considered poetry instead of war. It is a non government statement , it is a presence of an underdeveloped country generating a statement “My government is underdeveloped, not us”. Ulises nationality becomes global.


Ulises I is the first satellite built in Mexico with the capacity to fulfill its mission. It is modeled as the 1957 sputnik, it only needs a BIP. The idea is to become a trigger of the imaginary. BIP as a poem. The author “The Mexican Space Collective” a social organization (is not an inc, it is not an ONG, It is not a non profit). A group of individuals.

Mission description

Haiku in lateral panel: The sphere (Teresa Bordona y Fernando Castro)
Identification BIP and poem in morse code: Amo el camino / I love the path (JJ Díaz Infante)
Hello, shaking
Telemetry recoded: Vacio, telemetry as sound (Hugo Solís)
Sound work 1: For Ulises, musical score based on the fibonacci progression and the golden proportion (Omar Gasca, Ramsés Luna, Cabezas de Cera)
Sound work 2: Music without principles, a chromatic scale of all the sounds our ear can listen to (Arturo Márquez)



Pioneer work
Direct social impact in an underdeveloped country
Do it yourself
Citizen satellite
1st satellite made in Mexico
Mission pattern of thought
Transfer of Technology
Transfer of philosophy
Global discourse
Making of teams
Art and science
School of Satellites
Other missions
Change of conversation (from the cybernetics point of view)

Sending a satellite into Space is a long term project, how do you plan and work towards the launch?

Ulises I is a travel journal, where the process is the important subject to discuss

Flight manifest 1
Inter orbital Systems
Fully paid
Inter orbital systems is delayed in their launching schedule
this will happen sooner or later

Flight manifest 2
Gauss / JAXA

We had 3 offers of sponsorship for this launch

Mexican Space Agency
Centro de Cultura DIgital, CONACULTA
Talento Científico y Tecnológico de México

The Mexican Space Agency and Centro de Cultura Digital at the moment of signing the contract last year the pulled back in their offers.
CONACULTA and FONCA (Council for the Arts and the Arts Fund) none the less have given us some very partial support in the final testing. The Mexican Space Agency and Conacyt (Council for science and technology) have declared that they will not finance the launching of Ulises I.
Talento Científico y Tecnológico de Mexico AC, a non profit foundation, finally signed the contract with Gauss, we ran into some very bumpy delays from the backers of TCYTM and we are reconstructing the contract, hoping that everything will come through in a few weeks. We are working hard on this process.

How was your project approached by the technicians and scientists? was it difficult to convince them to collaborate?

We have had the support of the National Institute of Astrophysics Optics and Electronics, through the Dr. Celso Gutiérrez and his team. They have been in charge of the integration of systems, trials and testing, Earth base.
We have had the support of the LINX, Laboratory of space instrumentation at the Institute of Nuclear Sciences at the UNAM National University, through the Dr. Gustavo Medina Tanco and his team. Vacuum and temperature testing, Suborbital testing.
Also the preliminary design was done at the Multimedia Center at the Centro Nacional de las Artes

When will the satellite be launched and how long will it transmit the signals for?

We are hoping it will be soon within the next 8 months
the mission will last 4 months
Ulises will be over Mexican territory 3 times a day for periods of 10 minutes
It will transmit at 436.7 Mghz Amateur satellite band

I can imagine this project changed your working method in a way. Is that the case?

I learned

Mission: A problem of language; formal language
If you want to get to space: Work with people that can be a team, geniuses are worthless if they do not work with others
If you want a dialog between science and art, the hierarchy can not be “the economy”
cooperation instead of competition
Passion, essential to do anything
Politicians should not be in space
Space is very important

Anything else you would like to add about your project which we didn't ask?

Recent speech at ISEA in Sidney, Australia, speaking of an art project resembling the Voyager Golden Disc

Hello 101
My name is Juan Diaz infante
I am from Earth and I come in peace
We need to rehearse that action
I come in peace

I am very happy to be here, this is my first time in Australia, and for me Australia is a place that is very very far, and I am very happy
that Willoh and her team have invited me over to be present at this event.
I am very interested in seeking and trying to work out somehow a collaboration among two places that are so distant like Australia and Mexico.
Two languages, two cultures, two colonies...

It is an exercise if we ever find intelligent life in a different planet that we learn how to deal with distant relationships. Why, if we find intelligent life in our own planet we do not know how to deal with our own intelligent life, here you have some cosmic Freud...

Australia is far, space is farther. This project is about reaching the hand of an alien form. We are sending signals in the hope we are not alone.
And Carl Sagan used to say our thinking about life in space has to be very clear. There is the possibility of alien life, it is common sense to think that it is possible, but if by any chance we happen to be the first ones, we are the seed of life in the universe (!), that is even something bigger to think about. So, keep up with me, by one side, it even sounds better to think we are not the seed, too much responsability, so it is better thinking reaching for another life, we need someone else to blame for whatever happens to the universe. Or there is another path, lets grow up, let us become cosmic adults. Doing so, we can think really big, actually becoming responsible for life.
We need to give testimony of mankind, not feeling as an inferior and crazy race, but as what we are, life a very strange phenomenon in the universe and reflect upon the miracle of what it means to be alive, LIFE!
This project becomes of a different dimension when we see it under this filter. Let’s celebrate the phenomenon of matter or energy among empty space. Lets celebrate that we understand gravity in a minimal way. Lets celebrate LIFE
Art is an act of freedom, to travel to space is an act of freedom.
the future is to understand that we have to plant the dream in future generations, so one day we ensure that our future children will build starships and they are willing to travel to the stars.


Thank you Juan!

The next International Astronautical Congress will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2016, highly recommended!


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