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WE representative Satoshi Takamatsu speaks at a news conference in Tokyo on Feb 8. Image: Mikoto Nishioka

Art collective WE announces project with Axiom Space

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To democratize the "experience of seeing the Earth from space", the art collective WE plans to conduct a long-duration stay (30 days) in orbit by a private citizen to take ultra-high resolution photographs and videos together with 360-degree VR videos of the Earth that approach the limits of human visual perception.

Last month, WE completed a seat reservation agreement with Houston-based company Axiom Space for a long-duration human space flight mission. WE representative Satoshi Takamatsu has completed the initial payment to Axiom  Space and will be asking individuals, brands, and foundations around the world to  sponsor and fundraise for the mission expenses.

Tejpaul Bhatia, left, shakes hands with Satoshi Takamatsu Image: Mikoto Nishioka

Tejpaul Bhatia, Axiom Space Chief Revenue Officer, said that Axiom Space is looking forward to working with Takamatsu on a future mission. He said, “With this agreement as the initial foundation, we will work together to build a comprehensive  mission plan that supports an imagery-centered commercial astronaut effort on orbit for the benefit of all."

It is said that many people have an experience called the "overview effect" or "mind shift" when they look at the Earth from space. The experience varies, but it is said that many  people intuitively feel the importance of environmental issues and the sustainability of the Earth when they see the fragile planet protected by a thin atmosphere.

WE is also an acronym for World Environment and War Ends. Its members share two messages: to protect the global environment and eliminate war on Earth.

To film in space, multiple high-performance cameras will be stacked and operated simultaneously to capture 300 million-pixel still images, 24K video, and 360-video  shooting to enable playback of more than 60 PPD (pixels per degree of view) on an HMD  (head-mounted display) for VR. In addition, machine learning AI super-resolution is performed in post-processing, and the target output is 600 million pixels for still images  and 48K for video.

Takamatsu, based on his experience in creating the world's first FIFA authorized public viewing at the National Stadium for the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, said: "Valuable content that so many people want to see can only be experienced by a limited number of people. We were convinced that there is great significance in providing  an infinitely realistic virtual experience to a large number of people there. This project can  be described as a ‘public viewing of the experience of seeing the Earth from space.’"

Takamatsu also created the world's first commercial shot on the International Space Station in 2001 for the Japanese brand Pocari Sweat, and in 2005, he conducted a two-year campaign for peace with the Nissin Cup Noodle "NO BORDER." In this space project,  WE will integrate his experience shooting commercials on the International Space Station, eight months of cosmonaut training in Star City, Russia, in 2015, and his subsequent experience as a photographer and artist.

"Until now, the only people who have seen the Earth from space have been approximately  600 astronauts from various countries and a small number of space travelers," Takamatsu said. "Seeing the planet Earth changes people’s hearts and minds. They are awakened as 'Earthlings' beyond nationality, ethnicity, culture and religion. They feel the Earth as if it were a single life form.

"I would like to be the first photographer in space and share that visual experience with all people on Earth. The overwhelming visual experience of viewing a 10-meter photo output size and 100-meter video display size at close range and a VR experience that is indistinguishable from reality is made possible by ultra-high-pixel photography. We will be able to feel this planet as our home only when we leave the Warth and look at it from the outside. War is happening inside the home. Non-renewable environmental  destruction is continuing at home. Humanity’s great challenges will be impossible to solve  without fostering a global consciousness that transcends national boundaries."

For more information about WE, visit www.missionwe.com.

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