Cultural Perspectives on Space – March 1999

3rd Leonardo Space and the Arts Workshop March 21st 1999 – Boulogne- Billancourt – By invitation
This workshop uses English and French, therefore some of the texts presented here can be in English or in French or in both languages depending of what the participants have provided.

Table of contents :


Under the title “Cultural Perspectives on Space”, this 3rd Leonardo Space and the Arts workshop focuses on the cultural (both artistic and scientific) dimension of the space age “after the exploration”. What are the new questions, approaches, attitudes, thinking, researches that are conducted today where we do live in space ?
Among the presentations : artists’s projects, presentation of exhibitions celebrating the third millenium, interior architecture as a design for an art annex for the International Space Station, etc.

Sous le titre “Cultural Perspectives on Space”, ce 3ème Leonardo Space and the Arts workshop porte sur l’appréhension culturelle de l’ère spatiale “d’après la conquête”, à travers des projets d’artistes, des expositions célébrant le troisième millénaire, les questions que se posent les scientifiques et les chercheurs aujourd’hui, la vie dans l’espace.


The workshop is co-organized by Leonardo/OLATS, the OURS Foundation and the International Academy for Astronautics.


Marc Battier

Biography: Artist

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Joël Boutteville

Biography: ART-EL, events curator

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Burkhard Bratke - BEOS - A New Approach to Promote and Organize an Innovative ISS Utilization

Biography: DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG

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Ralf Buelow - Space on Earth - Pictures of an Exhibition

Présentation :
L’espace sur terre – Images d’une exposition. De mai à novembre 2000 une exposition du millénaire va se tenir à Berlin sous le titre “Les septs collines – Images et icônes du 21ème siècle”. Elle couvrira sept sujets dont l’espace. L’exposition présentera des visions, images et objects liés à l’astronomie et à l’exploration spatiale. Cette présentation expose les idées qui sous-tendent la partie spatiale des “Septs collines” et comment y est traité la question “vivre dans l’espace” en comparaison avec les musées scientifiques ou l’industrie du loisir.

Abstracts :
The year 2000 will see (at least) two large theme-oriented Millennium exhibitions and one rather small one. The large ones are, of course, the Millennium Dome in Greenwich/UK, which includes fourteen “zones”, and the “Themenpark” of the EXPO 2000 fair in Hannover/Germany, which presents eleven thematic areas in several big halls. The small one is the Berlin Millennium show “Seven Hills – Images and Signs of the 21st Century”, where each hill represents a topic important for the future of mankind. “Seven Hills” runs from May 14th till October 29th, 2000, and fills two floors of the Martin-Gropius-Bau near Potsdamer Platz, Berlin’s most prestigious building for temporary exhibitions. The seven topics – The Nucleus, The Jungle, Space, Civilisation, Faith, Knowledge, and Dreaming – cover around 800 square meters each. “Seven Hills” is organized by the Berliner Festspiele GmbH which since 1981 produces major exhibitions about cultural and art history. So despite its visionary label the show is based on firm historical analysis and in a certain sense reaches the future by travelling through the past. This even is valid for the most forward-looking of its topics – Space. That area combines astronomy and spaceflight and must be contrasted to two exhibition traditions. In the field of astronomy we find three styles of mostly historical presentations, i.e. scientific instruments, astronomical/astrological literature (including charts and globes) and astronomy-related artworks like the marvellous pieces of the “Cosmos” exhibition. In the spaceflight sector we either have collections of old rockets, satellite models, spacesuits etc. or the most modern hardware as seen at aerospace and high-technology fairs. The Space area of “Seven Hills” tries to find a way around these traditions, though it cannot escape the astronautics-astronomy dichotomy and has two wings overlapping in the center of the area. One exhibition strategy chosen is to stay aloof of space missions and astronomical phenomena featured frequently in the news, like ISS or results from the Hubble telescope. Without giving away too many details we may say that one pillar of the astronautics wing is the “Golden Age of Spaceflight” of the 1950s and 1960s and the other the phenomena of zero gravity in general. In the astronomy wing the visitors will meet the Milky Way, the riddles of the universe and last not least The Alien. Both parts of the Space area display objects and pictures from the past and multimedia installations from today, and they are further united by the very special exhibition design created by Duesseldorf “artronaut” Charles Wilp.

Biography: Né en 1953 à Gelsenkirchen, a étudié les mathématiques, l’informatique et la philosophie à l’université de Bonn de 1971 à 1980, à travaillé au Deutsches Museum de Munich de 1985 à 1990, essentiellement dans le domaine de l’histoire de l’informatique, journaliste dans le domaine des sciences et technologies de 1990 à 1994, il a rejoint le Berliner Festspiele GmbH en 1996 où il est l’un des commissaires de l’exposition du millénaire à Berlin “Les septs collines”. Principales publications : “Denk Maschine !” (Munih, 1988), collection d’essais. A également réuni 3 collections d’aphorismes Graffiti 2 (1984), Graffiti 3 (1985) et Graffiti 4 (1986), dans le cadre du Grand Panorama Allemand du Graffiti des années 1980.

Born 1953 in Gelsenkirchen, studied maths, computer science and philosophy at Bonn university from 1971 until 1980, worked at the Deutsches Museum in Munich from 1985 until 1990, mainly in the field of history of computing, was science & technology journalist from 1990 until 1994, came to Berliner Festspiele GmbH in 1996 where he is one of the curators for the Berlin Millennium exhibition “Seven Hills”. Main publications: “Denk, Maschine !” (Munich 1988), edited this collection of computer-related literary texts by established authors. Also edited three collections of aphorisms, “Graffiti 2” (1984), “Graffiti 3” (1985) and “Graffiti 4” (1986), during the Great German Graffity Craze of the 1980s.

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Annick Bureaud

Biography: Specialist of art and technology
Coordinator of OLATS/Leonardo Observatory for the Arts and the Techno-Sciences. Executive director of CHAOS, non-profit organization which publishes the IDEA online/International Directory of Electronic Arts (http://nunc.com). Eletronic art critic. Lecturer at the art school of Aix-en-Provence.

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Vinton Cerf

Biography: Senior Vice President, Internet Architecture and Technology, MCI WorldCom
Vinton G. Cerf is senior vice president of Internet Architecture and Technology for MCI WorldCom. Widely known as a “Father of the Internet,” Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocol, the computer language that gave birth to the Internet and which is commonly used today. Prior to rejoining MCI in 1994, Cerf was vice president of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI). As vice president of MCI Digital Information Services from 1982-1986, he led the engineering of MCI Mail, the first commercial email service to be connected to the Internet. During his tenure from 1976-1982 with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Cerf played a key role leading the development of Internet and Internet-related data packet and security technologies. Cerf served as founding president of the Internet Society from 1992-1995 and is currently serving as its chairman of the Board. Cerf is a member of the U.S. Presidential Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) and the Advisory Committee for Telecommunications (ACT) in Ireland. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the Endowment for Excellence in Education, Gallaudet University, the MCI WorldCom Foundation and the Hynomics Corporation. Cerf is a fellow of the IEEE, ACM, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.
In addition to his work on behalf of MCI and the Internet, Cerf serves as technical advisor to production for “Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict,” the number one television show in first-run syndication. He also made a special guest appearance in May 1998. Cerf also holds an appointment as distinguished visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he is working on the design of an interplanetary Internet.

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Richard Clar

Biography: Artist, Richard Clar from Art Technologies, USA, focuses his attention on the creation of art in space and art that utilizes data and processes related to various aspects of space. Subjects range from the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) to Orbital Debris. Richard’s work is interdisciplinary in nature and seeks to engage a broad audience from varied cultural backgrounds.

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Pierre Comte

Biography: Artist

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Rob La Frenais - Arts Catalyst's strategy

Practical long-term strategies on the part of the glocal cultural sector for enabling working artists to travel outside the earth’s atmosphere.
In his presentation, Rob La Frenais discusses the Arts Catalyst’s strategy together with one or two other cases studies of independent initiatives as models for discussing the realistic rather than the obvious difficulties and drawbacks in achieving this goal.

Biography: Curator, Arts Catalyst

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Frank Friedlander - The very dynamic nature of the sun

Two very brief videos were presented that showed the very dynamic nature of the sun. The images were taken by the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer(TRACE), a scientific instrument package built for NASA by the former Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratory.
The science objective of this mission is to explore the connections between magnetic fiels and plasma structures on the sun. The visible surface of the sun, the photoshere, averages about 6,000 degrees C.
Above the photoshere of the sun lies the outer atmosphere called the corona. The corona is very hot, ranging from one to three million degrees C during normal events. When solar flares are present the temperature can go as high as 100 million degrees. Solar physicists are very interested in the transition region between the photoshere and the corona.
Scientists would like to understand the mechanism that heats a tenuous corona to millions of degrees while sitting on top of a cool 6,000 degree photoshere.

Biography: Lockheed Martin Research Lab

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Roger F. Malina

Biography: Directeur du Laboratoire d’Astronomie Spatiale de Marseille (CNRS), directeur du Center for Extreme-Ultraviolet, Berkeley, California, directeur de Leonardo.
Space Arts Leonardo working group

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Susan McKenna-Lawlor - Contribution to the Leonardo Space and the Arts Workshop on Sunday, March 21, 1999

Susan McKenna-Lawlor from Ireland reported that she has, to date, made three steps in endeavouring to bring a component from the Arts into Science. The first step was in the naming of her first Principal Investigator (PI) experiment to fly in space – an energetic particle detector chosen for the Giotto Mission to Halley’s Comet. This she named EPONA after the beautiful Celtic goddess associated with the commencement of the solar year, but the name is also an acronym for Energetic Particle Onset Admonitor, thereby indicating the function of the instrument while linking the ancient culture of Ireland with state of the art science. A reproduction of a carving of EPONA now forms the logo of her company Space Technology Ireland, Ltd. which presently builds hardware/software for missions launched by the four major space agencies and provides electronic consultancy for ground based industries.
Her second step was to write a book “Whatever Shines Should Be Observed” which looks to the last century to celebrate the achievements of five distinguished women of Ireland who made pioneering contributions to photography, microscopy, astronomy and astrophysics. With the hindsight of history we recognise that the heroic personal efforts each of these women made to overcome the social constraints that held them individually back from learning about and participating in, scientific and technical subjects, had a consequence on a much broader canvas. In addition to what they each achieved professionally by their very existence and attainments, they contributed within society to a gradual erosion of those barriers raised again the participation of women in academic life, thereby allowing University places and professional opportunities to gradually become generally available. This book, among other awards, had received the Social Science Book Prize of the International Academy of Astronautics.
The third step was to invite a young composer from her University to view images and data recorded in space aboard Giotto, SOHO and other spacecraft on which her Irish built instruments have flown/are presently flying, as well as computer simulations of such events as the landing of a probe on the nucleus of comet Wirtanen (the Rosetta Mission), to see if these images might provide a source of musical inspiration.
The composer Rachel Holstead was absolutely excited by this material and the outcome was that the Orchestra of the National University of Ireland, at Maynooth commissioned a special film score from Rachel to, in their words “accompany stunning new images from space returned by instrumentation built at NUI Maynooth by Professor Susan McKenna-Lawlor’s Space Research Team.
This work, which will be in three parts, constitutes a Millennium Project for the Composer and the Orchestra and has been widely advertised within Ireland as ” an exciting collaboration between Science and the Arts at NUI Maynooth”
The first piece composed by Rachel Holstead (three years ago when she was 18) was played by Susan at the Leonardo Workshop and constitutes a description of a battle that took place in 2000 BC between the Fianna (a band of Irish warriors) and the son of the King of the World. The music describes the surprise attack, a vigorous conflict on the sands at Ventry (Rachel’s home place in the south of Ireland) and the devastation after the battle when, although the Fianna had won, anguish at the loss of friends is powerfully coveyed.

Biography: Scientist
Susan McKenna-Lawlor is a Professor in the Department of Experimental Physics at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth as well as a Member of the Senate and of the Managing Board of that University. She is also Managing Director of her own Company Space Technology Ireland, Ltd. which builds instrumentation for space. She has acted as PI/CoI for various experiments flown on ESA, NASA and Russian missions. Currently she is participating in ESA’s SOHO, Cluster, Rosetta and Mars Express Missions and in NASA’s WIND and Gravity Probe B (Relativity) Missions.

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Karen O'Rourke

Biography: Artist

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Didier Ottinger - Cosmos - From Romanticism to the Avant-Garde, 1801-2001

Biography: Conservateur, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou Communication : Presentation of the exhibition “Cosmos – From Romanticism to the Avant-Garde, 1801-2001” to open in June 1999 in Montreal.

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Marko Peljhan - The Aurora Universalis - Makrolab Collaboration Mission

The project involves a plan to connect the mobile biospheric and self sufficient Makrolab mobile laboratory with the network of already existing aurora borealis research stations around the Arctic and to produce new video and media work on the Aurora research in the lab itself, together with pursuing the existing mainframe activities of the Makrolab project, which was first presented and installed during documenta X in Kassel, that includes telecommunications research, weather and space weather research and migrations research. Makrolab is a project of the Ljubljana based independent arts organisation Projekt Atol, and has started in 1997 with a projected life span of 10 years, Aurora Unversalis is a project of Aurora based work started by Stephen Kovats and Nina Czegledy in Toronto in 1996. The collaboration mission is supposed to start in 2002. The topics discussed includes existing aurora research overview and the possibilities of including a frame like Makrolab in it.

Biography: Artist
Born 1969 in Nova Gorica, lives in Ljubljana. 1988-1992 studies at the academy for theatre, radio, film and television in Ljubljana 1992 – foundation of arts organisation PROJEKT ATOL 1995 – foundation of technological branch PACT SYSTEMS 1995 – co-founder of LJUDMILA-LJUBLJANA DIGITAL MEDIA LAB >From 1989 on, works and presentations in diverse media (performance, theatre, video, film, telecommunications, networks), lectures, exhibitions and situations. Among others, works presented at documenta X-Kassel, Ars Electronica 98-Linz, Manifesta II.-Luxembourg, Antwerpen 93′, Gallery of Modern Art Ljubljana, Museum of Modern Art Zagreb, Johannesburg Biennale. Among others lectures given at the University of Ljubljana, Northwestern University, the Royal Insitution, Sydney University, KIT Trondheim, University of Tasmania, V2, Public Netbase, Isea 94. >From 1996 programs coordinator of LJUDMILA-ljubljana digital media lab responsible primarily for education and the hardware lab development and co-organiser of the Beauty and the East nettime conference in Ljubljana, May 1997. Coeditor and author of art and performance oriented publications and articles. From 1997, coordinator of the MAKROLAB project.

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Jean-Marc Philippe - "KEO", a winged satellite

KEO, a winged satellite, is being launched in 2001 to orbit the Earth for some 50,000 years before returning to deliver a collection of messages from the world of today to the world of tomorrow.
Every man, woman and child is invited to contribute to this fresco of messages which will reveal the richness and diversity of the human experience at the dawn of the third millennium. Projected out of the “here and now” by such a mind-boggling distance in time, each individual is invited to reflect differently upon themselves and has four uncensored pages in which to add a unique and personal portrait to this collective work.
The creation of a French artist, Jean-Marc Philippe, KEO is endorsed by the European Space Agency and brings together partners from the aerospace industry who have demonstrated the project’s technical feasibility and are currently working on its implementation. They include Aerospatiale, Sup’Aéro, Intespace, Ecole des Mines de Paris, CEA (the French Atomic Energy Commission) and Arianespace who have offered a free launch.
A symbolic feature will be added to the satellite to enhance its unique mission and intrigue the imagination: wings made from shape memory alloys will spread as the satellite moves into the sun’s rays and fold as it returns to the Earth’s shadow.
So that the project may be universally accepted and remain free of commercial and political influence, it is being realized solely through gifts in kind. Its many contributors both in a corporate and individual capacity are giving freely of their time, skills, services and products. Indeed, the name KEO was chosen precisely to be all-embracing, composed as it is of the phonemes common to the 100 most widely spoken languages in the world.
That such a project can transcend cultural and language barriers is confirmed by the messages received to date from 50 countries representing all age groups. Media coverage has been unusually diverse encompassing television, radio and the press including international dailies such as Le Monde, The Times, La Folha de Sao Paola, Corriere della Sera and the People’s Daily in Beijing. Radio France Internationale are providing sustained coverage throughout the world in the 18 different languages of its listeners. A marked interest among schoolteachers in the project complements UNESCO’s and Education International’s support for KEO as an educational tool.
Once the satellite has been launched, all messages will be freely accessible, for the true value of the project today lies in the opportunity to share in one another’s hopes, dreams, fears, doubts and deepest convictions. Through doing so, we may come to rediscover our common humanity and glimpse the foundations for a future to be forged together. For KEO is like an impressionist painting where each individual’s message is one small dot of paint that he or she leaves before standing back to contemplate and find meaning in the rich canvas of human colors.

Biography: Artist

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Richard Americus de Seabra

Biography: Artist

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Charles Wilp - Art Module "Michelangelo"

The Microgravity Experience – A stimulus to human creativity. Zero G microgravity subsconsciously charges people’s batteries of creativity ; so far practiced during parabolic flights to “enhale” Zero G for creative results (like the author of this abstract is practicing). Later this zero-g experience can be obtained on the International Space Station. The direct marketable spin off can be achieved by docking an “Artists Module” as an Art Academy by private investors on ISS, financed by commercialising artists work in quick refunding and marketable results like producing publicity ideas, or giving immaterial products in general. 1. by using the auras of so far unknown space station myths proofed and produced, goods. (Aerogel, DLR) 2. The academy art students or designers sent aboard Zero G, sponsored by the industry. 3. For self recharging, his or hers, personal sensibility, payable by a profitable advertising industry, for the art directors and artists, then will be called Artronauts. They will have Zero G Space Diplomas. They show to competitors on earth, that their pencil drawings, in Zero G, for example, differ so much from the gravity hinderd finger movements on earth. This is to develop e.g. a more space mysterious art “signed in space…” “There are of cause other priorities, but it can be done…” J. Kind, President of Infrastructure, DASA – German Aerospace

Art Module “Michelangelo”

A Private Sector Initiative to Promote Art on the ISS
Charles Wilp, Burkhard Bratke


According to the current planning the assembly of the International Space Station ISS will be finished in the year 2003. It will consist then of a number of habitable modules, which will include, besides others, three nodes, a service module, laboratory modules from four different countries and logistics modules. That means, all the necessary elements, that support its technical tasks and human work on it, will be there. But how about the elements or provisions for recreational activities for the humans living on the ISS? Does the currently planned range of activities for a permanently inhabited human outpost in space reflect non-work life on earth in an appropriate way? The answer can only be “no”. Besides sporting activities the creation, performance and consumption of art represent a fundamental part of human life and of humans living together anywhere on (or outside of) earth. Therefore it is essential, that the astronauts time schedules leave room for a reflection with art. This pastime could be spent nowhere better than in an art module, which is added to the International Space Station. For the consumption as well as the production of art in microgravity feeling is expected to be a so far unknown generator of human creativity.

The Idea

It is the idea to have an art module, named “Michelangelo”, added to the ISS after the technically designated elements are completely assembled and the operational activities have settled. This module would be equiped with nothing but its life supporting systems, no racks or other equipment shall disturb the available space within it. The utilization would be completely dedicated to art activities like painting, drawing, sculpturing, prodution of videos or movies (e.g. MIR ? the movie, filmed on the ISS, in case MIR is not available for that project anymore), designing of fashion, writing of literature (e.g. the Japanese journalist on MIR in 1996), creating music, etc. As the microgravity of parabolic flights is experienced already by one of the authors to charge subsconsciously batteries of creativity, the results will be unique art works of a high value. At first the astronauts themselves could use this location; but it is also imaginable though, that artists from earth will have the possibility to work for a certain time on the ISS, thus becoming ARTronauts.

The Plan

The realiszation of this idea does not seem to be that far away on the second view as it seems to be on the first one. There has not to be a dedicated development for this module. For the procurement of it private investors could choose between different possibilities. The Italian space company Alenia e.g. currently builds already six structurally very similar flight modules for the ISS: the European laboratory module Columbus, the Italian ISS contribution MPLM (3 flight units) and the ISS nodes 2 & 3. For sure Boeing and Russian space companies have similar elements available, that could relatively cheaply be build a second or third time and serve as art module. A second possibility could be to adapt a not anymore used Spacehab module for an attachment to the ISS; after all in the year 2003 the first Spacehab module will celebrate already its 10th anniversary in space. The utilization of the currently at the NASA Johnson Space Center developed Transhab Module ? a space habitation module, that is pumped up in space like a ballon ? would be just another possible candidate for “Michelangelo”.
Transportation of the art module into space could be fairly unexpensive as well, if it is used as a logistics carrier on its way up. Its adaptation to the ISS and the resources used for it then would have to be bought from the ISS operator. Here it is expected, that these costs could be covered by renting the module to interested companies, consortia or even individuals, who are interesting in creating or performing art works in space including advertising activities. Selling of space art works should be a second source for financing.


Even though at the moment no sound and waterproof business plan can be presented for the above sketched idea, there exists a great confidence in the concept and its realization on a commercial base during the first decade of the new millenium. Contacts to relevant industrial partners have been established already. Josef Kind, Head of Space Infrastructure of DASA, Bremen, commented the idea during a conversation lately as follows: “There are of course other priorities, but it can be done…”.
Paper given during the ISS Congress in Albuquerque, USA, February 1999

Biography: Artist
Biography Documenta Artist – Artronaut 1950 / 53 studies Art and Multimedia, Aachen 1950 Architecture with Oscar Niemeyer, Brasilia 1951 Photography with Man Ray 1952 Space Art Design with Raymond Loewy / NASA Spacelab Since 1953 Space Art Conceptions and realisation for industry 1968 / 77 Guestlecturer University of Nairobi Yves Klein, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol collaborations. 1986 “MBB Space Sculpture” aboard TDF 1 satellite 1990 October 3 – Berlin, Reichstag “German Space Eagle” 1992 ESA “Satellite Giotto”, Art Sculpture 1993 Space Art aboard NASA Shuttle Columbia STS 55 1993 CTE Ground-Orbit experiment with NASA shuttle pilot Tom Henricks in orbit 1994 – 98 Art aboard MIR Spacestation 1995 ONO, Climate Conference, Berlin 1995 april, 25 – Working aboard Zero G planes in Microgravity over the Northatlantic 1997 “Ariane 5 / o1 – Clster” Sculpture from Explosion Debris 1997 University Athens, Telemedicine Art 1998 ESA, World Exhibition, Lisbon 1999 – 2000 Huntsville, Alabama – “Wernher von Braun memorial Year” 2000 Berlin 2000 Millennium Exhibition, Dept. Space Presentation : The Microgravity Experience – A stimulus to human creativity. Zero G microgravity subsconsciously charges people’s batteries of creativity ; so far practiced during parabolic flights to “enhale” Zero G for creative results (like the author of this abstract is practicing). Later this zero-g experience can be obtained on the International Space Station. The direct marketable spin off can be achieved by docking an “Artists Module” as an Art Academy by private investors on ISS, financed by commercialising artists work in quick refunding and marketable results like producing publicity ideas, or giving immaterial products in general. 1. by using the auras of so far unknown space station myths proofed and produced, goods. (Aerogel, DLR) 2. The academy art students or designers sent aboard Zero G, sponsored by the industry. 3. For self recharging, his or hers, personal sensibility, payable by a profitable advertising industry, for the art directors and artists, then will be called Artronauts. They will have Zero G Space Diplomas. They show to competitors on earth, that their pencil drawings, in Zero G, for example, differ so much from the gravity hinderd finger movements on earth. This is to develop e.g. a more space mysterious art “signed in space…” “There are of cause other priorities, but it can be done…” J. Kind, President of Infrastructure, DASA – German Aerospace

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Arthur Woods - Paris Space Art Workshop - March 21, 1999 - Report

For the third year in a row space artists and scientists met in Boulougne-Billancourt – a suburb of Paris for the annual Paris Space Art Workshop. The workshop was held on Sunday March 21 and this year’s theme was the “Cultural Perspectives on Space” focusing on the artistic and scientific dimensions of the space age since exploration began.
As before, this one day event was organized and co-sponsored by Leonardo – the Journal of Art, Science and Technology, the OURS Foundation, a Swiss based cultural and astronautical organization and the Sub-committee for the Arts and Literature of the International Academy of Astronautics (I.A.A.)
The timing of the workshop is coordinated with the week-long planning meetings associated with the annual International Astronautical Congress (IAF Congress) which brings of lot of people from the international space community to Paris at this time of year. The workshop was hosted in the home by Marjorie Malina, wife of the late space pioneer and artist Frank. The organization was expertly handled by Leonardo assistant Annick Bureaud. Approximately thirty persons attended this year’s event.
Artists and scientists which attend this event are invited to make short, 10-15 minute presentations of their work in their respective fields. Discussion and interaction are encouraged and is usually lively. This year’s workshop was divided into two sessions interrupted only by lunch and refreshments. The morning section was dedicated to the artistic and scientific exploration of space. The afternoon session centered around the human experience of space.

Roger Malina, astronomer and current editor of Leonardo, began the day’s events with the presentation of three stimulating astronomical images which depicted 1. the origin of the universe, 2. the origin of our galaxy and the 3. the origin of a solar system similar to our own. These fascinating images with their profound implications on our understanding of our place in the universe set the tone for the morning session. Frank Friedlander from Lockheed Martin Research Laboratory also presented fascinating photographs and a video of “Solar Weather” – the climatic changes taking place on our sun. Irish space scientist Susan McKenna-Lawlor, shared some aspects of her work in space science and building instrumentation for space. She exposed her commitment to the Art/Science relationship through, among other things, her book “Whatever Shines Should be Observed” which celebrates 5 Irish women who made pioneering contributions to science and her recent collaboration with the composer Rachel Holstead. Vladimir Kopal, a space lawyer, shared some of his views on the current legal discussions associated with human expansion into space.

On the artistic side French artist Pierre Comte reviewed the status of large scale space art projects which he and others have been involved in for more than 15 years. His opinion was that visible orbiting space art projects were basically impossible to realize in today’s environment due to the political and financial obstacles. He then presented some concepts of how he has applied some of the technology aspects of his work to the design of future space habitats.

Jean-Marc Philippe, also from Paris, gave the audience an update of his two space art projects under development, “The Mars Sphere” – a memory alloy structure that is destined for the planet Mars in the year 2000 and his “KEO” project an orbiting time capsule that is being developed for launch in either 2000 or 2001. Most of the technical details have been worked out and this project is starting to garner quite a bit of international press attention and participation.

Swiss/American artist Arthur Woods, who has flown two projects on the Mir space station “The Cosmic Dancer” in 1993 and “Ars Ad Astra” in 1995, gave an introduction and update on his new “SEEDS” project, stating that he was currently in negotiation with a private American company to place a small art work filled with “seeds” on the Moon. Video of his “Cosmic Dancer” sculpture was also shown at various times during the event. Californian space artist and secretary of the IAA sub-committee on the Arts and Literature, Richard Clar, was also present and gave an update on his “Earth Star” project which relies on reentry heat forces to create a ceramic artwork composed of soil samples taken from of nations currently at war. Woods and Clar reported on the activities of the IAA sub-committee plans for the upcoming 50th IAF Congress in Amsterdam and the symposium “The Cultural Aspects on Astrobiology” which they are co-chairing as well as the “Space Dreams” exhibition which they organized at the 49th IAF Congress held in Melbourne, Australia last October.

A presentation about the work of German artist Charles Wilp, who has flown artworks on Mir and made sculptures with parts of the wreckage of the maiden flight of Ariane 5 was made by his representative Ingrid Schmidt-Winkler. She was joined by Burkhard Bratke from Daimler-Chrysler Aerospace, who presented a concept by Wilp that is currently being investigated by DASA German Aerospace to add an artistic module christened “The Michelangelo Module” to the International Space Station as a laboratory for artists in space. Interestingly, Amsterdam-based artist Richard Americus de Seabra also presented some parts of his thesis research on the design of a similar such artistic space station module which utilizes recording studio techniques and practices to optimize this proposed “orbiting art studio”.

Later in the day a somewhat related topic was introduced by Solvenian artist, Marko Peljhan who presented a documentation of his project “Makrolab” a mobile digital media laboratory which incorporates, among other things, satellite links and digital communication technologies in site specific installations such as the recent “documenta x” in Kassel, Germany.

Rob La Frenais of the Arts-Catalyst organization in London, gave a talk about the current exhibition that he was organizing involving the zero-g experiences of Parisian dancer Kitsou Dubois who has done a series of parabolic flights in co-operation with the French and European space agencies to assist in astronaut acclimatization. She has also transferred her experiences in weightlessness into dance choreographies.

Ralf von Buelow gave a presentation of the exhibition “Space on Earth – Pictures from an Exhibition” which he is organizing next year in Berlin. Likewise, Didier Ottinger presented a slide show of the upcoming exhibition “Cosmos – From Romanticism to the Avant-Garde, 1801-20012”. (Neither of these “traditional” exhibitions seemed to have any input from these avant-garde space artists attending the workshop). Annick Bureaud, however explained her ongoing plans to organize an online virtual exhibition of space art.

Toward the end of the day, the workshop was joined by Christine Maxwell one of the founders of the Magellan search engine and Vinton Cerf who was responsible for the key Internet technology TCP/IP some 25 years ago. Both were in Paris for the meeting of the International Internet Society. Cerf talked about his involvement in the exciting concept of an “Interplanetary Internet” that was under consideration by NASA and JPL which would extend the interface of today’s terrestrial Internet to nodes on or around our surrounding planets by incorporating the necessary protocols into scientific missions destined for these places.

Plans for a fourth Paris Space Art Workshop which may be coordinated with Annick Bureaud’s space art exhibition plans were confirmed for the latter part of March or early April in the year 2000.

A. Woods, April 1999

Biography: Chairman of the Art and Literature Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics

⇧ Participants


The original website of the conference