../book of principles


artistic research




000 artwork

keyword :: EXPLORATION
After orbiting Earth and visiting the Moon the next step in human space exploration will likely be our neighbor planet Mars.

Currently two scenarios for crewed missions are being considered. They differ in their time and energy requirements. The 500-day-model postulates transfer times of 179 days for the outgoing flight and 248 days for the return flight; a distance of 56 million kilometres. This scenario, which includes a stay of only thirty days on Mars, is considered relatively short. By comparison, the 1,000-day-model presupposes comparatively long transfer times of 225 days for the outgoing flight and 204 for the return. However – with a launch window to return to Earth after one and a half years – this flight would allow a surface stay of about 500 days, which is enough time for the planned research on Mars.


Spacefarers will spend most of their exploratory time in the habitat. Only on Mars' surface are a limited number of extra-vehicular activities planned during which the crew can temporarily leave the capsule. Based on this, the habitat combines different purposes: it is transport vehicle and place of residence; it will be used as laboratory and for leisure time activities; it is a storage space and most importantly it is a life sustaining system.

Quite likely, the quality of the intended exploration will closely be connected with the habitat design and how it will support everyday needs and likings. Once the journey has started, no further changes will be possible.

In human spaceflight, habitability defines the existential requirements of astronauts in relation to what is technically feasible. The term arises from an individual's relationship to his/her area of activity in accordance with the overall scenario, social needs, comfort, and reasonability.


The implementation of artworks is defined as a coping strategy. Five artistic prototypes suitable for cosmic explorers and their specific needs are proposed. These are Limitlessness, Placelessness, Sensorialness, Homelikeliness and Closenessness. Each concept addresses predicted malfunctions and reponds to cognitive, psychological and/or socio-psychological impairments.


The German philosopher Martin Seel analyzes aesthetic perception and associates the interpretation of artworks with a play of appearance. His concept separates three modes of encounter which are represented in the artistic-reflexive appearance, as well as its mere-contemplative and/or atmospheric-corresponsive appearance of an artwork.

Seel's theory of appearance is applied to the integration of artworks into space habitats.

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100 limitlessness

keyword ::
Microgravity is a state in which gravity is reduced to almost negligible levels. Without gravity, the human being, as well as all objects, lose their apparent weight and can be moved with ease while freed from any resistance of inertia.

However, at the beginning of each sojourn, space travelers must first become accustomed to this new range of movement. One reaction is the "space motion sickness". Similar to seasickness, this appears in the spacefarer in the form of nausea and dizziness.

The otoliths, located in the inner ear, are responsible for this. They provide the individual information on the body’s position. This organ is an important aid in spatial orientation, and conflicts appear whenever its signals are outweighed by additional visual signals. As a result, corporeal perception can be over-written and can lead to disorientation.


Astronauts are aware of outer space as indifferent to all places and as multidirectional, without up and down, no right and left, nor depth or centre. There is no point or place, and no specific, horizontal direction which provides the human being with any frame of reference or spatial orientation.

Due to the human body's incompatibility with weightless space, the sense of sight becomes more important in comparison to the other senses. It compensates for bodily insufficiencies and the lack of orientational parameters.


In weightless space the human being gains a number of movements and body positions so that rolling, tumbling and spinning replace the upright gait. As a reaction to the plenitude of possible positions of orientation in zero-gravity space, the individual constantly defines his/her frame of reference anew according to his/her body position.

"Subjective verticality" is the technical term for this. In the language of the astronauts this means that "down" is where one's feet are, and "up" is where one's head is.


The multidirectional weightless space enables new performative artforms as well as new forms of objects. While floating, cognition and the interaction within the habitat and with the artwork should be considered by artists. The spherical form seems good, because objects could be used and perceived from all sides. This form is predestinated for the floating user. However, over the course of time roundness becomes tedious!


The unsuitability of outer space for humans is also demonstrated when weightless artworks are returned to Earth context. This applies to the work as well as the earthling as recipient, since the direct experience of weightlessness is not possible for humans on Earth.

For this reason, artists must think about the different presentational contexts in their work and, in consideration of the recipient, differentiate between humans in zero gravity and humans on Earth, as well as between these places of presentation. Every context requires individual forms of realisation and reception. The challenge is to discover an artistic language within the cognitive, physical and spatial preconditions.


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200 placelessness

keyword :: PLACE
Although Mars and Earth share many physical similarities, these two heavenly bodies could not be more different for humans. While the Earth represents our natural environment, Mars is a region in which human history has not yet occurred.

As geographic features constitute an attachment to a place the people who live there and the activities possible there, Mars does not yet possess any particular importance in the sense of meaningful identities. What is at stake here, is how the future explorer will outfit cosmic places, because, meaningless places, too, can become indispensable to humans.


keyword :: HOME PLANET
From the cosmic perspective, Earth becomes a synonym for "existential insideness". This term, coined by the American geographer Edward Relph, characterizes the individual home of humans. It is the place with which the individual feels most intensely connected. In contrast to other places within the universe, planet Earth is full of meanings It is the home of the human being.


keyword :: Earth-out-of-view phenomenon
On Mars, the travelers will hardly be able to distinguish their home planet from other heavenly bodies. From this position, Earth appears as a tiny dot among many other dots in the universe.

With this, the last visual link to home will have vanished from the space travelers' reach and with it, everything that is familiar and ordinary. Space psychologists assume that, in extreme cases, this Earth-out-of-view phenomenon can lead to an inner alienation and renunciation of our home planet.


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300 sensorialness

keyword ::
Human senses are tailored to Earth. This interplay remains intact in humans off the orbit as well. While the capsule imitates earthlike space, outer space can be used for sensory stimulation to a limited extent only. The absence of air and the presence of protective suits impede acoustic, olfactory, and tactile stimuli.

For artists, it is thus important to differentiate between the empty universe and the capsule habitat. Every space has its specific sensory parameters and phenomena. The development of relevant metaphors and artworks taking into account the physical conditions, the given capsule infrastructure, as well as the needs and personal preferences of the spacefarers pose the particular artistic challenges of the "Artwork of Sensorialness".


In space science, the capsule design receives special attention. The reason for this is its small size and the preclusion of an additional resupply. During the exploration no changes are possible. The constant sameness of the habitat is therefore regarded as the cause of environmental monotony and emotional impairment.


Cosmic phenomena, such as solar radiation and black holes, are imperceptible to humans. Suitable artworks can help to translate these occurences into sensible signals.


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400 homelikeliness

keyword ::
For the duration of their exploration six astronauts will live together in the space habitat. As a government funded enterprise, the crew will comprise members of various nationalities, and differing personalities and professional qualifications.

Researchers assume that interpersonal problems will be unavoidable, and go so far as to claim that conflicts will be an integral component of long-duration expeditions.

The cause for these conflicts will likely lay in the inescapable proximity of the travelers; because it will hardly be possible to distance oneself from the fellow travelers or even to fully separate oneself from one of the team members.


keyword :: NORMALITY
Living in a space capsule is anything but homelike. Physical, psychological, and psycho-social constraints, the mixture of living and working, and the constant presence of external danger can, with great likelihood, influence a homelike existence of the astronauts.

Activities that distract and recreationally structure the cohabitation of the space travelers are suggested as counter measures. The particular challenge will lie in the design of suitable recreational group activities that reconciliate distinct interests and cultural differences.


The researchers suggest that after the half-way point of the exploration and with the commencement of the flight back to Earth, there could be an abatement of concentration tied to leaving Mars, which could lead to negative emotions and a decrease in tension within the small group.

In order to avoid the expected stress, recommendations include, for example, to create private activities and develop group strategies that provide variety and disrupt daily routine.


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500 closenessness

keyword ::
Space travelers live with a paradox: the extreme distance from the Earth is replaced with the inescapable proximity to fellow astronauts, an unchanging condition for the entire exploration.

In space travel, privacy is attributed to the areas of habitability and human behaviour. It is tied to the research questions concerning how individually available space can be optimised. One important aspect is how sufficient opportunities for withdrawal can be created that meet the needs of the individual as well as the group.


keyword :: PERSONAL TOOL
Personal activities as well as personal objects can be used as a counter measure against a lack of privacy and the missing contact to the self. They foster self-communication and enable forms of contemplation. In this way, activities and objects are linked to persons and places forged to past, present and future events.

At the same time, concentration on activity and objects enables a person to distance him/herself from his/her immediate surroundings, which can cause a feeling of independence and seclusion from the everyday.


keyword :: CREATIVITY
The experience of loneliness is intrinsic to exploration. By definition, the term loneliness is tied to negative emotional feelings. Yet solitude is not necessarily a condition in which the individual feels lonely. It is entirely possible for people to associate a welcome experience with loneliness. Adventurers, sages, saints, sailors, and seekers are some of the people who voluntarily enter into isolation. These persons interpret solitude as a necessary condition. Because it is only through voluntary seclusion that insights and discoveries become possible. This depends on the individual, and it makes a significant difference whether he/she has entered into total isolation on or against his/her own will.


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0000 interdisciplinarity

keyword ::
Within the design process, the artist will collaborate with representatives of the relevant space disciplines. The concept of interdisciplinarity used here refers to a method that aims to develop a joint outcome. With this, the cooperation of artistic and scientific disciplines is mandatory. For a limited time frame, various disciplines will work as a team, their common goal being the development of a space-proven artwork.


Like all items onboard space habitats, distinct objectives are explicitly expected from the artwork, which must be scientifically demonstrated. In order to verify this artworks and spacefarers will become matters of academic investigations. The general premise links art reception with scientific objectives and defines the presence of the artwork in the capsule as a technical procedure. Throughout the succeeding evaluation, the involved parties appraise the work of art as a scientific experiment. Their examination will scrutinise the integrity of the artwork as a physical object as well as its socio-psychological and psychological impacts.


keyword :: INTEGRITY
During art production for indoor space habitats, artists must contemplate safety requirements posed by the space agencies. These apply to material selection as well as object design. Each item follows well-defined requirements, which may reject the employment of specific materials, the use of protective devices (like gloveboxes) or comparable precautions. Until an artwork receives the label "flight qualified", a number of reliability and material tests are obligatory. If these tests do not meet technical requirements, modifications become necessary and, where applicable, experiments are excluded from further experimentation. These conditions have to be taken into account by the artist from the very beginning.


In human space research, polar regions are used as analogue testing grounds, because they also display life-threathening environments, extreme isolation and monotonous landscapes.

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