A little over a century ago, mankind had never been to the North Pole. We had never been deeper into the ocean than one lungful of breath. We hadn’t explored volcanoes or flown on our own power. The world was vast and unknown, and most people only experienced their immediate surroundings. Today, you can fly from New York City to the North Pole in a few hours, or drive a rented Humvee down the Amazon basin. Remote native populations are being crushed by development, but have internet access. The world is known, connected, and in great danger.
With our knowledge and convenience it is easy to grow callous. For some, an eco-friendly hiking trip in the rainforest or an online video chat with the leader of a native village in Africa can temporarily restore our interest and compassion, but it would take grand adventures, genuine danger, and tragic struggle to restore a true sense of wonder and mystery to the general populace.
A life-and-death journey to Mars would inspire the world. And this is the scenario for Approaching the Unknown.
Outer space is an unimaginably vast territory, and may always remain so for mankind. Ironically, for Stanaforth, the lead astronaut in Approaching the Unknown, a trip through these limitless depths would require transport in a small dark cage of a ship, cut off from the very fabric of the universe he is exploring. Communication during the arduous, lonely excursion would be limited to time-delayed radio messages and grainy video recordings. Stanaforth’s journey will take him further from Earth than any human being has ever been, he will take on physical challenges similar to thousands of explorers before him, but his biggest challenge will be mental: overcoming his isolation and fears. Yet if survives the expedition and lands on Mars, he will be gloriously celebrated in history, joyously reunited with his fellow astronauts, and exposed to experiences unknown to mankind.
The voyage to Mars in Approaching the Unknown is the perfect metaphor for and antidote to modern existence, and with this project I hope to inspire viewers to seek adventure and a sense of wonder in the world.