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Help MIT Students Document the Rapidly Changing Astro-Industry

Raised toward our $5,000 Goal
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Project has ended
Project ended on December 31, at 11:59 PM EST
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Help MIT Students Document the Rapidly Changing Astro-Industry

Our Project: The Sky Commodified

Over IAP 2019, a team of students from MIT will travel to the world’s largest radio telescope array in Chile’s Atacama Desert to document this region currently expanding under the influx of global astronomy facilities. We call this endeavor The Sky Commodified. This project bridges many different disciplines across MIT—art, technology, anthropology, education--and is funded in part by various bodies within the Institute. But to really make this project the best it can be, we need your help for the last leg of our funding needs before we begin production in January. 

The students who take part in this project will partner with Chilean filmmakers, astronomers, and local sky-guides to study the astro-industry; the economic and political context as well as the physical infrastructure—and create a speculative documentary film. Screenings for the completed film project are planned in Cambridge, MA and in Bangkok, Thailand, as are entries in international film festivals. 

$5,000 will allow us to extend our trip for more in-depth filming, as well as provide better compensation for the local filmmakers assisting us.


About ‘The Sky Commodified’ and Our Approach

The workshop will study the “astro-industry” in the Atacama Desert using three lenses each engaging a different scale:

The first will be the immediate scale, the physical building, and the architecture typology of the observatory. By drawing on its rich historical lineage of form and experience, we will study the observatory as a building typology that sits uncomfortably between a global research facility and a tourist site that needs to engage a broader public. The second lens will look at the infrastructural scale, the growth of astro-tourism in the Atacama region, from the local indigenous entrepreneurs and sky-guides, to the foreign observatory hotels, to the international megaprojects such as ALMA. The third lens will focus on the meta scale, data-mining and astronomy as a global industry increasingly engaged by Big Tech.


Each of the three groups will consist of two-three students and one filmmaker. With the help of the instructors and filmmakers, students will use mapping, interviews, performance, architecture animation, and film editing, to construct speculative documentaries which they will produce during their stay in Chile.


Our Team


  • Maya Shopova, Teaching Fellow MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • Romea Muryn, Adjunct Professor Chulalongkorn University (INDA) Bangkok, Thailand
  • Francisco Lobo, Film Director, Cinematographer, Portugal/Thailand


  • Francisco Lobo, Film Director, Cinematographer, Portugal/Thailand
  • Diego Cabezas, Cinematographer, Chile
  • Dubi Cano Reyes, Film Director, Chile
  • Nicolás Kisic Aguirre (SMACT ’18), Sound Artist, Perú
  • Anexo 82, Production Company, Portugal

Astronomy Collaborators:

  • Observatorio Alarkapin, Indigenous Community of Astro-entrepreneurs
  • SpaceObs Observatory, Amateur Observatory in Atacama
  • NARIT: National Astronomy Research Institute of Thailand
  • ALMA: Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array 

How to Help

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Digital Film Poster

Make a gift of $10 to receive a digital copy of the film's official poster.


Digital Copy of the Film

Receive a digital copy of the film, plus a digital copy of the poster when you make a gift of $25.


Advanced Digital Film Release

Receive a digital copy of the film in advance of its release, plus a digital copy of the film's official poster!


Be in the credits!

Get a special thank you in the film credits, plus a digital copy in advance of its release, AND the digital poster.


Director's Cut

Get a special digital director's cut of the film, a digital copy of the film before its release, a thank you in the film's credits, AND a digital copy of the film's official poster!

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