Cave Art: surfaces and symbols under an Apollo era launch pad

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    Between 1967 and 2011, the flame trench interior walls and flooring underneath Launch Pad 39A served as the utilitarian means of funneling out the sun-like temperature exhaust flames resulting from the rocket engine ignitions and lift-offs of the Apollo era Saturn V and the Space Shuttle.

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    During the Apollo era, the flame exhausts from the Saturn V deposited a pitch black residue extending through out the pad’s flame trench.

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    On the same lunch pad between 1981 and 2011, the forceful flame exhausts from the Space Shuttle’s fuel combination began eroding away the black residue markings from the Apollo era launches.

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    I documented significant surface markings and evidence of hand painted symbols that reminded me of the pre-historic cave walls at World Heritage sites like Lascaux, Chauvet and Altimira.

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    Created from the brute fire and the heat exhaust from more than 45 years of Saturn Apollo and Space Shuttle era launches, I documented the trench’s metamorphosed surfaces as a form of visualized cave art

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    This cave-like trench was located under the very Apollo era launch pad that had served as the cement and steel gate-way for the man-made machines that had first transported humans and their tools to the unknowns of space and to the surface of the moon.

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    It’s as though a modern era “Lascaux” of the space age had been created …

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    For over 4 years I had documented, primarily on black & white and color negative film, the metamorphosed layers of frozen-in-the-moment, abstract forms, mysterious shadowed shapes and textured flaking surfaces.

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    What should have seemed permanent became fleeting under this historic cave-like, gate-way landscape.

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    My last documentary session in the flame trench was in late in 2014, just after NASA leased this Apollo era launch pad to the commercial aerospace firm, SpaceX. Within months, its flame trench surfaces and symbols were demolished.

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    The physical evidence of hand-painted symbols and the unintended signatures from the machine tools that had first lofted humans from Earth into space and the moon were gone.