True story:

In 1977, NASA launched the twin Voyager space probes. Each probe was equipped with a golden phonograph record containing the best, and most beautiful of what humanity had to offer.

The Voyager probes are responsible for your favorite photograph of Saturn’s rings, and likely many of the planetary photos you grew up with. Aside from capturing iconic photographs of the planets in our solar system, the archival, golden phonographs that launched into the cosmos aboard these probes contain sound documents including music, speech, and sonic events on Earth.

Image of Disk, JPL/NASA Archives

“The launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.” – Carl Sagan

The golden record contains a range of documented sounds: a whale’s song, wind, thunder, bird-calls, and spoken greetings from fifty-five different Earthly languages. There are musical selections from varying genres, cultures, and eras, and printed messages from diplomatic leaders, all with the allowance that someday these messages may be found by some neighbors out across the interstellar pond.

Carl Sagan knew that someday, the probes would leave the solar system entirely.

The Voyager Probe’s 2012 crossing of the Heliopause made it the first spacecraft to cross into interstellar space, a monumental achievement for humankind. The farthest reaching manmade object carries a playlist of humanity on board. It wasn’t a vanity project, but a desire to answer that question: Are we alone? What would aliens think if they found the probes a billion years from now?

“During the entire Voyager project, all decisions were based on the assumption that there were two audiences for whom the message was being prepared – those of us who inhabit Earth and those who exist on the planets of distant stars.” – Carl Sagan

Voyager New Year’s Eve:

In December of 2013, Voyager NYE was born when Canvas asked: What if the Voyager probe crash-landed on a planet deep in the heart of another galaxy?

The inhabitants of that civilization found our golden disk, and absorbed its information. Inspired by the disk’s contents, they created an experience celebrating earth and humanity.

Canvas is excited to announce Voyager NYE 2018.

At the close of this seventeenth year of the twenty first century, Voyager will return again to make its year end crash-landing, where the inhabitants of Chicago will receive and celebrate the gilded reflection of our immortal artistic efforts.  

To dig deeper, I drop in on Canvas’ cosmic sherpa and one of Voyager NYE’s creative directors: Delwyn Harris, who amidst my call is world-building, scouring his Chicago networks, open-sourcing for the Voyager NYE 2018 video shoot. Del has been running an ongoing science, nature, and humanism documentary meet up called Cosmos Night for years.

I ask Del the most basic question: What is Voyager NYE?

“Voyager is a high-concept, purposeful New Year’s party designed to celebrate the story of humanity and who we are, and to make people contemplate our place in the universe at large.

The idea behind Voyager every year is to take over a different venue and simulate the alien environment where we imagine that the Voyager probes crashed. You might walk into an Avatar-like jungle planet, or an Ice planet, or a planet orbiting a Black Hole like we’ve done in years past. This year’s theme will be a Dune-inspired desert planet of strange rock formations, sand, and exotic mirages. “

JMSN Voyager 2017, Photo by Christopher Dylan Andrew

Voyager feels like a suspension of reality in exchange for a glimpse of the future. What better way to celebrate the coming of the new year than by perforating the time and space of now to perform the vision of a future to which we wish to create?

Canvas will use its diverse and ever-expanding universe of multi-disciplinary artists and creative minds this New Year’s Eve to host this immersive community experience wrought from collaboration.

This year Voyager NYE will celebrate its 5th anniversary, alongside the Voyager probe’s 40th anniversary since launch.

Transformational, immersive decor and art installations will accompany live music performances on multiple stages.

The Voyager NYE event has found its name on midnight countdown locations lists in Chicago, as well as booking major artists in Chicago music and art scenes.

In keeping with the Canvas vision of fostering community and purposeful engagement, Voyager NYE 2018 will be a proud amalgamation of the efforts of Humanity.  This year’s Voyager NYE will feature collaboration with collectives from around Chicago to celebrate the achievements of our communities and the Earth as a whole in a psychedelic desert aesthetic. Such a prompt for an event affords a unique and fittingly self-reflexive celebration of our culture and humanity.

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