Brian McCutcheon, Probe, 2011. Commissioned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Courtesy of the Artist.
McCutcheon’s exploration of the connections between popular culture and the history of space travel continues with Probe (2011), an adaptation of an actual U.S. space probe that has been painted in grayscale like the television broadcasts and films of the early twentieth century. Identical clips from the 1938 film Test Pilot appear on the flatscreen television monitors attached to each side of the central satellite. The plot of the film revolves around a daredevil test pilot and his love interest. She is featured here repeating the phrase “still living” on an endless loop. Because viewers cannot see the screens when standing directly in front of the probe, her presence is marked primarily by her disembodied, robotic sounding voice, which echoes throughout the gallery. McCutcheon has said of his use of the clip from Test Pilot: “This idea of wanting to take great risks to achieve flight, looking to the stars . . . it seems universal. . . . There’s a timelessness to it.”