Art might not be the first category that comes to mind when thinking of actual space travel and exploration; the technical aspect – rockets, spacesuits, space platforms – would probably be more dominant. Nevertheless, space travel has always been a topic for artists to unleash their creativity, which has resulted in a multitude of genres. And everybody who has seen a sci-fi movie knows: there is no wiggle room for errors in space.
So there is art where the error can be an integral part of creation, and there is space travelling, where a minor error could end deadly – at first glance, it almost seems impossible to combine these two. Yet, exploring is a vital part of both domains: searching for the formerly unknown or unconscious or, at least, looking at the dark corners of our universe. Maybe this is one facet of why space travel and art have crossed paths before and their combination sparks the interest of researchers, scientists and artists: from sending a couple of oil paintings to space in 1986, to Arthur Woods’ Cosmic Dancer, a sculpture which was sent to Mir station in 1993, to the foundation of KOSMICA in 2011, an institution that entirely focuses on Space Art, to the projects exhibited at Ars Electronica Festival 2018.
People are already envisioning space as a travel destination for civilians or even as a human living environment (although this may take a while…). Why shouldn’t we start establishing a cultural and artistic discourse about it right now?
A glitch in the stars – Space Exploration Initiative Exhibition
Space Exploration Initiative, MIT Media Lab (US)
What is human experience beyond the earthbound? Here, six projects form the Space Exploration Initiative of MIT Media Lab are bringing possibilities to the toughest, impossible space.
The Contour of Presence
Nahum (MX, DE)
On June 29, 2018, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center – half artwork and half ethereal presence. Audiences will find themselves immersed in an intimate narrative unfolding simultaneously on Earth and somewhere in outer space.
Juliana Cherston (US)
Grappler is part of the mission concept in which a rope or a net is used to grapple onto a low-gravity body of interest.
The Kepler Station
Florian Voggeneder (AT)
The series The Kepler Station depicts scenes of a Mars simulation that serves to gain insights for future flights to the neighbor planet.
Miha Turšič (SI/NL)
KOSMICA Parliament is a series of performative events featuring the artistic community of Ars Electronica and their views about human activities in outer space.
Xin Liu (CN)
Orbit Weaver uses a hand-held device to regain control of her body and move freely through weightlessness.
Smells for Space
Ani Liu (US)
This is a set of olfactive tokens containing precious smells of Earth for future cosmonauts.
Chrisoula Kapelonis (US), Carson Smuts (ZA/US)
Spatial Flux is a seamless pneumatic surface that morphs to embrace the human body in zero gravity.
Gregor Göttfert (AT), Florian Kofler (IT)
The installation SPHERE is comprised of a 65cm (25.5 inch) orb working als projection screen for transient images of the scanned environment.
Nicole L’Huillier (CL), Sands Fish (US)
The Telemetron is a musical instrument designed explicitly for performance in the zero gravity environment of space.
Ariel Ekblaw (US)
TESSERAE demonstrates a self-assembling geodesic dome structure for future space habitats in orbit.