Jamal Ageli




Den Haag, The Netherlands



Documentary photographer based in the Netherlands with an affinity for space travel, astronomy and science communication. Besides working in photography and cinema, I want to connect science with the arts by contributing to research in the field of robotics and spacesuit design in collaboration with ESA ESTEC. Since I can remember, I was fascinated by the far emptiness of space, seeing the bigger picture and putting life on Earth into perspective. As a passionate amateur astronomer, I use sky observation as an access point for myself to remind myself about the wonders of the universe and humanities insignificants. Looking at astronomy not only from a scientific point of view but almost as a spiritual tool, I’m searching for the ancient connection between the cosmos, humanity and myself.

Ever since I was fascinated by astronomy, space exploration and technological advancement because I’m convinced that technology can bring answer to the fundamental questions of life and where and why life originated. I want to encourage thoughts about the bigger picture, the absurd astronomical situation we were born into and humanities attempts to understand it. I believe that photography can be an access point for the viewer to understand and learn more about the world we live in, therefore I think complex and highly technical subjects like space travel, physics and astronomy should be transformed into visuals to better connect to it. Bringing daily life into perspective with my pictures and the topic of astronomy, is one of my strongest motivations for making work because I believe that life becomes a lot easy and joyful when we keep remembering about the absurdity of the situation we are born into. For me, photography is a great medium to better understand and to study the physicality of our world in a visual way, not only through abstract formulas on paper. My never-ending source of inspiration is the phenomenon of sun light and the Earth’s unique position in space and the solar system creating a daily stage for all sorts life in different landscapes around the world.


SUBMISSION: Astronomical Relations

“Astronomical Relations” consists of one photograph and a documentary movie exploring the ancient human tradition of sky observation and how it connects humans beyond time and generations. How will our relationship develop in the future when humanity becomes a multi-planet species? How will we communicate and more importantly, how will we connect to each other emotionally when living on different planets, being in completely different environments? This artwork takes a step back to realize the bigger picture of the relation between humans and the cosmos and our history in making sense of what we see in the sky. It is a very personal take on my own position within this history and how astronomy is able to connect me to my ancestors. This documentary movie shows my very personal relation to my grandma and how I inherited her fascination for astronomy and looking up to wonder about the vastness of the universe. It provides my perspective and reflection about my family and my heritage, growing up in a region with little light pollution, always having access to astronomy and how this shaped me as a person and my world view. The topic of universe awareness and access to astronomy will becomes a more important topic everyday here on Earth, as already 80% of the world population lives under a light-polluted sky not being able to see the beauty of our home galaxy. This documentary addresses the urge and also the risks for the education and development of future generations regarding their relation to the cosmos and how they might perceive our skies and reflect on it. The movie not only portraits the relation to my family and how thankful I am to be able to connect with them through my passion to astronomy. It is also reflecting on sky observation in a philosophical almost spiritual way, as it is a tool to stay aware and to put life on Earth in the right perspective. I truly believe that humans can have happier and appreciative lives when being reminded about the scale of life on Earth compared to the scale of the universe.
For this movie, I’m very much inspired by the parallax effect while observing the moon as I’m able to see the same moon as my family abroad at night and therefore even have a physical connection to them through the moon. This led me to more speculative thoughts about the future of space exploration, which are also part of the documentary movie. After establishing a permanent representation on the Moon, when calling home will we use for example a telescope to watch on them while we speak to feel more connected?