While in reality, humans are still some years or even decades away from being able to visit Mars, that hasn’t stopped Adam Norton from dreaming up his own version of the trip. Encompassing video, sculpture and installation work My Trip to Mars, is a mid-career survey of the artist’s work, visualises Norton’s personal journey to the enigmatic red planet as he transforms the gallery space into a fantastic replica landscape drawn from scientific research, science fiction and his fertile imagination. Employing a measure of artistic licence and encouraging the viewer to do the same, Norton intends for the audience to be immersed in the optimistic adventures of space age travel.
Shot entirely on location at Broken Hill, The Mars Project is a video work made while on residency in the outback NSW town. With the word ‘Earth’ emblazoned on his helmet, an anonymous orange-suited astronaut explores the barren surface of a red gravel landscape to a blustery soundtrack. Even though we know he’s on earth, Norton’s images are entirely convincing. Meanwhile the artist’s Space Yurt is a portable habitation unit designed for a solo traveller. The fictional silver installation references both the design of nomadic yurts and insulation shelters used at Nevada’s Burning Man festival. Once again, despite its simple appearance, it’s likely that most viewers will be suitably seduced to imagine it as the real thing. By using his art to connect the viewer with space travel and exploration Norton’s work draws us closer to discovering more about the human facets of scientific exploration and discovery. As English astronomer Fred Hoyle once said, “Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.”