Maarten Vanden Eynde

Inspirerende kijk van wetenschappers en kunstenaars op de invloed van de mens op de planeet Aarde.

Wetenschappers hebben een nieuw geologisch tijdperk bepaald: het Antropoceen, waarin de activiteiten van de mens overal voel- en zichtbaar worden in de atmosfeer, het landschap, de geologie en de oceanen van deze planeet. De mensheid zelf is een geologische kracht geworden en wordt, als nestbevuiler in eigen biotoop, stilaan een bedreiging voor zichzelf.  In Manmade reflecteren inspirerende essays van filosofen, wetenschappers en kunstenaars over ons verleden, heden en toekomst. Tientallen kunstwerken van gerenommeerde binnen- en buitenlandse artiesten tonen op originele wijze de bedreigingen en kansen van het Antropoceen.  Het boek werd uitgegeven bij de tentoonstelling Manmade die nog te zien is van 11 juni tot 2 oktober 2016 in Raversyde ANNO1465 en op diverse plaatsen langs de Belgische kust.

Met bijdragen door onder anderen: Johan Braeckman (BE), Ackroyd & Harvey (UK), Ant Farm (VS), Brandon Ballengée (US), Chris Burden, Leo Copers (BE), Cosco (BE), Luc Deleu (BE), Wim Delvoye (BE), Mark Dion (US), Simon Faithfull (UK), Nicolas Floc’h (FR), Frans Gentils (BE), HeHe (DE, UK), Rune Peitersen (DK), Allan Sekula & Noël Burch (VS), Tuur Van Balen & Revital Cohen (BE, IL), Peter Buggenhout (B), Yves Henoque (F), Maarten Vanden Eynde (BE), Dick F. Swaab (B) en Michael Sailstorfer (D).

Man Made publication

New Essay by Maarten Vanden Eynde:


Cosmic Connection: On Space Archaeology and Future Fictions

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”
― Beryl Markham[i]


Originally there were four known strategies to understand human existence: traditional archaeology, ethno-archaeology, archaeological ethnography, and modern material culture studies. Traditional archaeology is studying the past in order to better understand the past. About 95% - 99% of human existence (the percentage used depends on how you define human) can be understood only through traditional archaeology. Ethno-archaeology is the study of the present in order to better understand the past, whereas archaeological ethnography is the study of the past in order to better understand the present. Modern material culture studies involve the study of the present to better understand the present. More than any other type of archaeology, this last methodology proves that archaeology does not need to be the study of the past exclusively. As long as the relationship between patterns of material culture and patterns of human behaviour are being studied, the study is archaeology, be it in the past or present.[ii]

Future archaeology is the most contemporary strategy to understand human existence. It is the study of the future to better understand the past, and thus also the present. Of all known strategies, it is the most daring and challenging one, since time travel is not (yet?) possible and remnants of future material culture are not available. At the same time it is not certain that there will be any human artefacts left, let alone humans to study their own behaviour. Future archaeology tries to envision what remnants could represent humanity in the far future and to a certain extent favours specific scenarios as plausible or even preferable (e.g. time capsules). All aforementioned strategies utilise the same subjective phenomenological methodology, i.e. personal interpretation in combination with preconditioned common sense and a lot of imagination. The continuous alterations of and additions to human history caused by new discoveries of temporary evidence demonstrate the subjective nature of archaeology as a whole.

Until humans started to send matter into space, all human activity and all material remains of human activity were restricted to one planet. Since the advent of space exploration however, and the creation of an exoatmospheric archaeological record, the situation changed significantly, expanding both the temporal and spatial dimensions of archaeology. Space debris in orbit is dynamic and it will follow the law of orbital mechanics as opposed to the law of superposition (an axiom that forms the basis of geology, archaeology, and other fields of study dealing with geological stratigraphy). There is no stratification with a geospatial resolution. Terrestrially humans tend to see time as a linear force. The past is old, and ‘old’ is relative. In space, time is the forth dimension to define a location of an object. This distinct contrast is noted in the use of the term in situ, which for the Earth-bound archaeologist indicates a fixed location, except in marine archaeology, where flotsam may well be more often in motion. In space orbit, in situ is where the object of interest is at the time of interest.[iii] If life on Earth and even Earth itself should cease to exist, man-made space debris could become the only evidence left of human civilization, and the study of these floating remains might become the only viable approach of archaeological inquiry.

The oldest piece of man-made hardware still in Earth orbit is the Vanguard 1 satellite although communications with it was lost in 1964. It was originally expected to remain in orbit for 2000 years, but orbital perturbations due to the gravitational fields of the Sun and Moon, as well as radiation pressure from sunlight, have caused the orbit to decay. Another cause of orbital decay, which was one of the most significant discoveries of Vanguard 1, is the expansion and contraction of the Earth’s atmosphere with the solar circle. Like any gas, the atmosphere expands when it is heated and contracts when it is cooled. As the atmosphere expands, it extends to higher and higher orbits, causing the satellites there to experience drag, which lowers their altitude.[iv] Many objects in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) will eventually burn up while entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Luna 1, launched by the USSR in 1959, was the first spacecraft to leave Earth orbit and now orbits the Sun. Initially intended to hit the Moon, Luna 1 missed by 6000 km and eventually entered a heliocentric or circumsolar orbit.[v] Most man-made objects in space are in orbit around something, be it the Earth, another planet in the Solar system, the Moon, or the Sun. Very few objects can be said not to be in orbit, namely Voyager 1 & 2 and the New Horizons[vi] spacecraft. These objects have achieved escape velocity from the sun and so will never return.[vii] Both Voyager 1 & 2 were launched in 1977 and contain a phonographic record that represents the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form that is in the possession of a phonographic record player, or for future humans, who may find them somewhere in the universe. Next to a selection of images, sounds and music, it contains the following message from American president Jimmy Carter: ‘This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.’

The Golden Record also carries one hour of brainwave recordings of Ann Druyan[viii] who was asked to think of many topics, including Earth's history, civilizations and the problems they face, and what it was like to fall in love, and it includes the inspirational message Per aspera ad astra[ix] in Morse code.

In 1997, Celestis 1, a private commercial capsule, was deposited in space carrying some of the cremated remains of twenty-four humans, including the creator of Star Trek, an American science fiction entertainment franchise. Many more would follow, putting a new spin on the concept of manned spaceflight[x] and shedding a different light on possible future graveyard archaeology.

Prior to 2007, the principal source of human made objects in space was from explosions of upper stages of old launch vehicles left in orbit with stored energy sources, e.g., residual propellants and high-pressure fluids. The intentional destruction of the Fengyun-1C weather satellite by China in 2007 and the accidental collision of American and Russian communications satellites in 2009 greatly increased the number of large objects in orbit.[xi] The garbage in space includes objects ditched (most of it in garbage bags) from the Soviet Mir space station built in 1986, and human excrements coming from the toilet that vented out waste in space. By the time space officials were retiring Mir in 2001, the space station's solar panels had lost about 40 percent of their effectiveness[xii], in great part due to the impact of frozen urine drops floating in space at very high speeds. Currently more than 21,000 pieces of orbital debris larger than 10 cm are known to exist. The estimated population of particles between 1 and 10 cm in diameter is approximately 500,000. The number of particles smaller than 1 cm exceeds 100 million. [xiii]

The first animals sent into space were fruit flies aboard a United States-launched V-2 rocket in 1947.[xiv] Albert II, a rhesus monkey, became the first mammal in space but he died on impact after a parachute failure when he returned to Earth. In the consequent years more monkeys, but also mice and dogs were send in space, some survived, others did not. Yuri Gagarin was the first human to travel to space and orbit the earth on the 12th of April 1961. This marked the beginning of an unparalleled space race that brought many more humans to space and even other planets.

The only known survivor of unprotected space travel and the first living organism to land on the moon is Streptococcus mitis, common and harmless bacteria from the nose, mouth and throat in humans. They were discovered during the first archaeological fieldwork executed on the moon, i.e. the study of the relationship between patterns of material culture (the retrieved camera) and patterns of human behaviour (the conquest of space). The 50-100 organisms survived the launch of Surveyor 3 spacecraft in 1967, space vacuum, almost 3 years of radiation exposure, deep-freeze at an average temperature of only 20 degrees above absolute zero, and no nutrient, water or energy source.[xv] All Streptococcus mitis were picked up by the Apollo 12 crew by the end of 1969 and brought back to Earth.

It has been calculated that the normal human houses about a trillion bacteria on the skin, 10 billion in the mouth, and 100 trillion in the gastrointestinal tract. The latter number is far in excess of the number of eukaryotic cells in all organs, which comprise the human host. It is sometimes said quite simply that there is more of "them" than "you'' in you. The indigenous biota occupy all available colonization sites in and on a human body, which makes it more difficult for other microorganisms (non-indigenous species) to become established.[xvi] They equally cause artificial (non-biological) additions to the human body to be rejected. In order to bypass this limitation, humans developed biological transistors or transcriptors to enhance and ultimately replace the basic functions of their brain.

Since the beginning of the digital revolution, microchips made of silicon have consistently been shrunk to smaller and smaller sizes. Moore’s Law, articulated in 1965 by Gordon Moore, predicted that the number of transistors one can fit on a microchip will double every 18 to 24 months, constantly increasing computer speed and efficiency.[xvii] At the beginning of the 21st century the traditional chip circuitry made of silicon was too microscopic to work reliably, marking the end of the Silicon Age. Subsequently, biological alternatives were developed. They used systems of biologically derived molecules—such as DNA and proteins—to perform computational calculations involving storing, retrieving, and processing data. Once biological hardware was applied in robots, artificial intelligence was achieved rapidly, making the definition of archaeology in relation to human existence become obsolete.

In the human body model, the brain is the site of reason and intelligence, which includes such components as cognition, perception, attention, memory, and emotion. The brain is also responsible for control of posture and movements. It makes possible cognitive, motor, and other forms of learning.[xviii] By adding supplementary storage and computing capabilities to the brain, a new trans-human being emerged that was capable of transcending it’s own existence. Humans finally overcame their own universal limitations, such as vulnerability to aging, maximum life span and biological constraints on physical and cognitive ability, making space travel become a walk in the park. In the end their bodies contained so much augmentation that they were able to alter their physical manifestation at will.

As soon as humans implanted biological chips in their command and data handling system, everything changed rapidly. They were able to receive commands from all communication systems, interpret the inputs by validating and decoding the commands, and distribute them appropriately to subsystems and components. This monitoring was done autonomously, just as the human brain coordinated sensory data. The thought processing for control and movement in the cerebellum was extended to the guidance, navigation, and control system and the attitude control system. The sun generated electrical waves through the power conditioning equipment before it passed through a power distribution unit.[xix] The homeostatic system went in overdrive; intelligence radiated outward from Earth until it saturated the universe. Gravity lost its grip and everything broke down in constituent molecules accelerating exponentially. A rough road eventually led back to the stars.


[i] Beryl Markham was a British-born Kenyan aviator, adventurer and author. During the pioneer days of aviation, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west.

[ii] Edward Staski, Archaeology: The Basics (Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage – 2009)

[iii] Edward Staski, Archaeology: The Basics (Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage – 2009)

[iv] Daniel E. Clemens, Orbital Artifacts in Space (Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage – 2009)

[v] Daniel E. Clemens, Orbital Artifacts in Space (Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage – 2009)

[vi] Depending on the definition of the outer boundaries of our solar system, determined by the solar wind and the Sun’s gravity, New Horizons will achieve escape velocity from the sun around 2040.

[vii] Jerold Emhoff, Space Basics: Orbital Mechanics (Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage – 2009)

[viii] Ann Druyan was the wife of Carl Sagan (until his death in 1996) who was the chair of the committee that selected the content for the Voyager Golden Records. She was also in charge of the music selection that was included with both spacecrafts.

[ix] Latin phrase meaning ‘Through hardships to the stars’ or ‘A rough road leads to the stars’

[x] Daniel E. Clemens, Orbital Artifacts in Space (Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage – 2009)

[xi] NASA Orbital Debris Program Office

[xii] According to Mark Roberts, a tour guide at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City

[xiii] NASA Orbital Debris Program Office

[xiv] Beischer D.E. and Fregly A.R., Animals and man in space. A chronology and annotated bibliography through the year 1960 (1962)

[xv] David Noever, Earth Microbes on the Moon (NASA Science / Science News)

[xvi] David Noever, Earth Microbes on the Moon (NASA Science / Science News)

[xvii] Neel V. Patel, Is IBM Making Plans for the End of Silicon? (Popular Science)

[xviii] Ann Garrison Darrin and Thomas S. Mehoke, Space Segment: Space Vehicles and Payloads (Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage – 2009)

[xix] Ann Garrison Darrin and Thomas S. Mehoke, Space Segment: Space Vehicles and Payloads (Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage – 2009)







Man Made

Manmade – Contemporary Art about the Relationship between Mankind and Earth
Hardback 288 pages
Weight: 1320 gram
Size: 252 x 208 x 31 mm
Publisher: Hannibal
ISBN:  978 94 9208 163 6