Xavier Barral | This Is Mars

Extracted from tens of thousands of NASA observation probe images, Xavier Barral’s This Is Mars presents an unprecedented vision of the red planet. Equipped with a HiRISE camera, the NASA probe has circled Mars, capturing its alien landscape - Olympus, Arcadia Planitia, Elysium Mons, Planum Boreum, Noachis Terra - its topography is defined by the realms of ancient gods and anatomical terms.

 Endless Development

The result of more than three billion years of geological developments, Barral offers a series that elevates the landscape of Mars to the heights of the historical myth - each curve and contour becomes the fingerprint or footstep of an ancient deity, the result of a long forgotten climactic battle. In so doing, Barral extends the outlandish elements of Mars whilst placing it, decisively, in the human past. So, This Is Mars creates a link between the two planets, despite the sheer volume of differences. Xavier Barral fuels the imagination of the viewer, forcing them to consider and imagine the connections between our world and the Martian. It is a romantic and otherworldly environment, increasingly viewed in terms of humanity and its eventual colonisation.

The Primordial Landscape

 The images chosen by Xavier Barral anchor the viewer to a physical place whilst unfolding into a fantastic image of geological genesis. Mars takes its viewers back to the origins of Earth - it becomes a second cradle of life. This Is Mars is a beautiful representation of just how far humanity has travelled in its pursuits of understanding and exploration. A humanity that continues to extend its reach beyond the planet of its birth to its nearest neighbour and looks beyond. Xavier Barral’s This Is Mars takes readers on a pilgrimage - over the black sand dunes of Noachis Terra to the highest peak of the Olympus Mons volcano to the icy carbonic wastelands of the Martian poles. It is a terrific journey through the origins and evolutions of one planet and the people of another.

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Words | Rob Woodgate