2015, single-channel video, b/w, square aspect ratio, 12 min


I’ll Be Late For Dinner is a video made of images that were recorded by the Cassini probe in orbit around Saturn. Besides pictures of the planet you’re familiar with, numerous calibration exposures and images used for navigation can be found in the mission archive.

Your regular computer-generated cosmic movie features scenes where planets move slowly and smoothly, where the soundscape signals imminent danger. Using pictures from a spacecraft in orbit also creates cinematic results, but in a more surprising way.

Scientists shot some of the photographs as sequences. They didn’t, however, intend to view most of them in motion. Animating these pictures result in a video that visually connects to the experiments of the flicker film tradition. Additionally, high-energy particles activated the camera sensor, leaving short visual traces in the image, resembling scratches on film. Faint stars in long exposures look like dust. When the probe turned, stars trailed their light behind them, just as hair can be trapped in a projector. All likeness to analog film aside, the images have a digital origin. As there is no horizon in space, the frame doesn’t need to be horizontal and so NASA developed their cameras with a square image sensor.

As restless and foreign as the images are (twenty-five epic pictures per second), the sound is calm and private. This contrast makes the distance between the cinema and the camera apparent.

A video by Elias Heuninck
Images: NASA/ESA
The following Imaging Science Subsystem data sets were obtained from the Planetary Data System:

  • Raw Ground Calibration for WACFM and NACFM - Earth/Venus/Jupiter EDR Data Sets
  • Saturn EDR Data Sets

Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech
Sound: Elias Heuninck
Thanks to: Edwin Carels, An van Dienderen, Emi Kodama, Helena Kritis
Kindly supported by Beursschouwburg

I'll be late for dinner has been shown at
Visite film festival, Antwerp (BE), August 15, 2017 - (Screening Lightkeeping & I'll be late for dinner)
Loop, Barcelona (ES), June 6, 2016 - (installation in group exhibition "Without Pause, Dialogues")
IFFR Rotterdam (NL), January 30 - 31, 2016 (2 screenings)
Beursschouwburg, Brussels (BE), April 23, 2015 (avant premiere-screening in 'Exploring space, time and the image')