By Guest Contributor Jonathan Vogeler
This summer, Citibank began running an advertising campaign that features three young men embarking on a project, financed by the bank, to photograph Earth from space, using a weather balloon and off-the-shelf equipment. The advertisement taps several currents of our national mythology – independence, ingenuity, discovery, and superiority in space (which is itself an extension of our glorification of colonial conquest).
This is not an entirely fictional story. Two years ago, Justin Lee and Oliver Yeh, two Asian-American MIT students, made international headlines when they used inexpensive, readily available materials to photograph near-space orbit on a $150 budget. They describe their project here, and received national media coverage.
There is a remarkable visual similarity between the Citibank ad storyboard and the real-life project documented by Lee and Yeh on their blog. But there are a few key differences.