Somewhere between the romantic absurdity of what a trip to the moon used to inspire, and the reality of the NASA age, lies the low-fi charm of “A Space Program.” Director Van Neistat’s movie diorama is a conceptual recording of artist (and colleague) Tom Sachs’ DIY “Space Program 2.0: MARS,” a mixed-media piece exhibited at New York’s Park Avenue Armory in 2012.
It combined the aesthetics of bricolage — creating out of what’s available — and performance art to depict a hand-made galactic journey launching two female astronauts toward the Red Planet. Narrated like an instructional film, it’s a deadpan ode to painstaking ingenuity, primarily the properties of plywood, steel, resin and the shipping-envelope material known as Tyvek.
While there’s plenty of fun in the old-tech specifics — a mission-approved boombox for flight music, the thermos-and-ice cooling system for the spacesuits, an Atari console that renders the landing — “A Space Program” and its winking resourcefulness are very much a wry nod to the problem-solving spirit that makes humankind’s most ambitious ideas real. (Nestled inside the documentary-style elements is a hilarious short film on Sachs’ workshop rules called “Ten Bullets.”)
“A Space Program”
Running time: 1 hour, 12 minutes.
Playing: Cinefamily, Hollywood.