Molly Mendoza BFA Illustration Thesis Fall 2014

LONESOME ICON: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE GOLDEN RECORD

The focus of my thesis research has been on the Voyager Interstellar Mission conducted from 1977 into present day. I am interested in exploring our emotional influence on space travel and its future amongst the stars. The Golden Record, harbored by the Voyager vessels, is an example of humanity living on in the cosmos. By critically analyzing the iconography of the Golden Record, one can assess that the human race is inherently lonely and in search of an outside audience or empathy. I will execute my analysis by focusing on three components of the Golden Record: The instructional symbols on the front of the record, the curated greetings from Earth, and a short selection of samples from the natural sounds section. For this thesis research, NASA is a key source for information regarding the Voyager mission and the Golden Record. Additionally, I am using “Style as Evidence” an essay from Jules David Prown as a tool in my analysis. Prown’s terminology behind form, style, and function will be my guide in dissecting the samples that I have chosen. Lastly, I am referring to Erwin Panofsky’s essay, “Iconography and Iconology: An introduction to the Study of Renaissance Art”. Panofsky teaches that considering iconography of a form one can make the assessment that its use has emotional meaning beyond its literal meaning.

In my studio work, through illustration and writing, I explore the contexts in which situations occur. For instance, I am interested greatly in how place builds people. My thesis project and love for space stems from the context in which I was raised—how I was built. I have explored that context for a while in my work and have always been curious in taking the study a step further. For the studio thesis work I created a visual essay about the Voyager 1 and its journey into the interstellar medium. This story parallels in theme to the distance between people and the distance between a past and present self. It is this emotional theme of loneliness, distance, and journey that sparked my curiosity in analyzing the Golden Record to see how it was built by people and how it, in turn, builds us.

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