A Personal Quest for Extraterrestrial Life

In his series We Are Not Alone, Tim Dechent challenges his own personal significance when facing the concept of outer space experiences and the infinite possibilities of interplanetary travels.


I’m standing in a room that is completely dark. It is illuminated in red, though. A huge model of sparkling lights emerges. I’m at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. The one-hundred nearest stars to our sun are right there in front of me. I can visualise all the different systems and exoplanets. I wonder who or what is living there on these planets light-years away from earth. I’ll leave the sight with a single picture and also once more with that feeling I get a lot during my search for extraterrestrial life. Insignificance. It only gets bigger as I see the sparkling of glass in the asphalt I’m walking on as the headlights from the passing cars transform the scene into a galaxy filled with stars. A performative moment right there in front of me.

I realise that the search for exoplanets and a potential new home is in full force at institutions around the planet. It is no longer a question of if the human race should or need to be an interplanetary species, rather than when it will happen. My own fascination with the subject is the search for something new and finding oneself in it. The exoplanets will not solve the problems of mankind; indeed they will only take them to a bigger scale and give them room to grow. My own journey during We Are Not Alone lets me shrink instead. It gave me the freeing feeling of insignificance.

Words and Pictures by Tim Dechent.







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Tim Dechent, born in 1984 in Mainz, Germany, finished his bachelors degree at the University for Applied Sciences in Photography with his series, We Are Not Alone. Since then, he has been part of various national and international exhibitions. Today, Dechent is studying his photography Masters under Elisabeth Neudörfl at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.

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This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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