1986

Altar is an ongoing series pairing visual/installation artists and performance based artists for a large-scale immersive environment based experience.

Altar IV: 1986

Presented by The Museum of Human Achievement, Vidkidz, Josh Mills, NASA, and The CoA Arts Division.

Show Times
Saturday Aug 2nd – 5pm, 7pm and 9pm
Sunday Aug 3rd – 7pm and 9pm
at The Museum of Human Achievement
$10 advance / $12 door

Seating will be limited to 20 per show / Purchasing advance tickets is strongly recommended

ADVANCE TICKETS


 1986
A Memorial for Jeremiah Elder

Jeremiah Elder

Jeremiah Elder (born 23 September 1970) was a 16 year old American who is rumored to have been a stow away on the fated tenth mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Little is known about the life of Jeremiah Elder, but a journal kept months before his disappearance details his growing infatuation with the Space Shuttle program after experiencing a spiritual revelation inspired by 3 found VHS tapes.

According to school documents from the Alabama Christian Academy, Jeremiah stopped showing up to classes during the fall of his sophomore year. Around the same time, court documents show Jeremiah had been arrested on suspicion of distributing the designer drug MPPP. The case was dropped when no evidence of the substance was found.

On March 11th 1986, 42 days after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, Robyn Mayfield, a 15 year old who attended Alabama Christian Academy, disrupted a morning sermon by reading aloud from the supposed journal of Jeremiah Elder. The journal was confiscated by the school’s administration and turned over to the Montgomery Alabama Police Department.

Journal

The journal consists of 144 pages of text and drawings and is assumed to have been started sometime late in the summer of 1985. In the first entry Jeremiah writes:

“We met under the bridge at the edge of the woods and kissed. She said she saw something on the way but didn’t know if it was the high or not. I could see the glow on her. We went to where she saw it. The bag was that neon green-yellow. The glow was on it too, bright enough to light up the trees. She got frightened and cried. I almost cried. She wanted me to open the bag, she knew it would be important for me, but what that meant made her sad. There were three tapes in the bag. No covers. No text. I’ll
watch them later.”

After this entry much of the journal’s content appears to be unintelligible musings about deities arriving to and from the astral plane via Space Shuttle take offs and landings. Between these entries, the journal is populated with esoteric symbols and sigils, as well as references to the VHS tapes mentioned in the first entry. The journal refers to the tapes as the Ground Tape, Total Tape, and Tape Zonk. The journal also relates each tape to a specific orbiter in the Shuttle Program: Ground Tape is Discovery, Total Tape is Atlantis, and Tape Zonk is Challenger.

In a later entry Jeremiah writes:

“She won’t watch Tape Zonk. I don’t blame her. It’s heavy. Her favorite is Total Tape. Today we were watching Total and she tranced out…told me my name was at the end of Tape Zonk. I haven’t watch all of Zonk yet… I think I need to go up with them. That’s what I’m figuring out. I’m out there,
somewhere in the Stratosphere. Maybe I’ll make it to Skylab. I’m not worried about them stopping me. I’ll just walk on. Next launch is in 7 days 3 hours.”

The remainder of the journal includes a Grey Hound bus schedule and technical drawings of the Space Shuttle Challenger, Launch Complex 39B, and Skylab.

Launch

The day before the originally planned launch, a NASA security guard reported seeing an individual matching Jeremiah’s description walk through the wall of the Shuttle hanger. When questioned about why he didn’t stop the individual, the guard said he thought it was a hallucination, then it felt as if the individual belonged there. Since the launch had to be delayed for weather and mechanical issues, a thorough search of the Launch Complex was executed, but yielded no results. The launch commenced at 11:39:13 EST and broke up in the stratosphere 73 seconds later, killing the entire crew.

 


 

Seating will be limited to 20 per show / Purchasing advance tickets is strongly recommended

ADVANCE TICKETS

 

This project is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com.

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