RATAN 21.33 is a curatorial concept that addresses the theme of life and afterlife of the world’s largest radio telescope, RATAN-600, located on the territory of the Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Science in the village of Nizhny Arkhyz, Karachay-Cherkessia.
Backcasting K1 is a project about energy, civilisation and planetarity that was put together by a group of researchers from Strelka Institute’s The Terraforming program. It repurposes the scale invented by Soviet astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev in 1964 to classify extraterrestrial civilisations and to assess what planetary civilisation means here on earth. The Kardashev scale proposed that huge amounts of energy would be a fundamental requirement of any advanced technological civilisation. The centrepiece of Backcasting K1 (2020), is a two-channel video installation that depicts four scenarios for the development of our civilization. The video is accompanied by the voice of the narrator, who describes the two variables: the first is whether most of the energy produced is used on earth or in space, and the second is the method of generating energy. The researchers developed a ‘hindsight’ for each of the scenarios, tracing the chain of events backwards from the year 2600 to the year 2020.
The suggested vision re-contextualises the known role of the RATAN-600 structure, and mobilises the site-specific and the human domains, functioning at the intersection of art, science, architecture and performance. This immersive element plunges us into the field of the performativity of architecture. RATAN-600 as a metaphor endows the concept behind the structure of the radio telescope with supplementary meanings, which it is up to the visitor to delve into or to bypass.