Azuma Makoto, Exobiotanica (2014) Photo: Azuma Makoto via artist's website
Artist Launches Bonsai Tree into Space
Japanese artist Azuma Makoto launched a 50-year-old bonsai tree and a bouquet of flowers into space last week. The result are some of the most surreal, extraterrestrial images since Apollo 8's famous Earthrise.
Using GoPro and Fuji Film cameras, the florist-turned-artist got both film and still shots of the entire process as the plants lifted off from Black Rock Desert in Nevada and traveled to almost 100,000 feet above the earth's surface, the ceiling of the giant helium balloons used to propel their ride.
A 10 person team from Sacramento-based JP Aerospace assisted Azuma in launching the plant life. “The best thing about this project is that space is so foreign to most of us," company owner and founder John Powell told the New York Times, “so seeing a familiar object like a bouquet of flowers flying above Earth domesticates space, and the idea of traveling into it."
All told, the trip took 100 minutes on the way up and 40 minutes coming back down to earth, the paper reports. The frames the held the camera equipment and plants were slowed on their way down with the help of parachutes. However, neither the bonsai nor the floral arrangement were found at the touchdown site, five miles from where they took off.