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Space Ghost

Laurie Jo Reynolds

2007 00:25:35 United StatesEnglishB&W and ColorStereo4:3Video


Space Ghost compares the experiences of astronauts and prisoners, using popular depictions of space travel to illustrate the physical and existential aspects of incarceration: sensory deprivation, the perception of time as chaotic and indistinguishable, the displacement of losing face-to-face contact, and the sense of existing in a different but parallel universe with family and loved ones.

Physical comparisons such as the close living quarters, the intensity of the immediate environment, and sensory deprivation, soon give way to psychological ones: the isolation, the changing sense of time, and the experience of earth as distant, inaccessible, and desirable. The analogy extends to media representations that hold astronauts and prisoners in an inverse relationship: the super citizen vs. the super-predator. Astronauts, ceaselessly publicized, are frozen in time and memory whereas prisoners, anonymous and ignored, age without being remembered.

The end of the video introduces the notion of the "phantom zone" taken from Superman to describe incarceration as an in-between space, a no-man's land, or a warehouse. A letter from an inmate explains how the space/time continuum can become reconfigured in prison:  "The time really goes by fast here. You can do years in prison and it seems like no time at all. That's because you don’t remember any of the time you did. And that's because there’s nothing to remember. "Space Ghost is an experimental video constructed with juxtapositions and non-linear narrative. It is about isolation, mediation, separation; being de-linked from the world of touch, and time, and dailiness, and human contact. It's about the attempts in face of that disconnection to read mystical connection into any links you can find. It's about the craziness of isolation, about not being able, literally, to move; about living in virtual not real space, and about disappearing there. It's about a sister and a brother communicating only by telephone; it's about not having pancakes, but seeing pictures of pancakes."

— Laurie Palmer "Report Back", AREA Chicago 

About Laurie Jo Reynolds

Laurie Jo Reynolds is a policy advocate and artist who challenges the demonization, warehousing, and social exclusion of people in the criminal legal system, often long-term efforts at the margins of political viability. Focusing on the retributive extremes of solitary confinement and public conviction registries, Reynolds collaborates with justice advocates, state officials, cultural workers, and people directly affected by violence and incarceration to encourage policies that truly prevent victimization, and restore and rehabilitate, rather than damage, people in the justice system.

Her recent work has focused on conviction registries, housing banishment laws, and public exclusion zones, which destabilize families and lead to unemployment, incarceration, and homelessness, through the Chicago 400 alliance. Reynolds was the organizer of the campaign to close Tamms Correctional Center, the notorious Illinois state supermax prison designed for sensory deprivation. She co-leads the ongoing project Photo Requests from Solitary (, and serves on the boards of Working Narratives, Illinois Voices, and the National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated.

She teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she serves as faculty advisor to the YES APPLY ILLINOIS! campaign to remove invasive and humiliating questions about past convictions from the admissions process in public higher education.