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