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Zero Gravity: A Cultural User’s Guide, 2005

A survey of Arts Catalyst's pioneering zero gravity projects carried out over the last 10 years.

Beginning with a contextual overview, the book traces the development of the projects and discusses the collaborations with Kitsou Dubois and Imperial College’s BioDynamics group, and the inauguration of the MIR (Microgravity Interdisciplinary Research) consortium which gives international artists the opportunity to carry out individual projects in zero gravity.

The book contains essays by Eduardo Kac, Marina Benjamin, Rob la Frenais, Kodwo Eshun, with an introduction by Nicola Triscott. It features projects by Kitsou Dubois, Mike Stubbs, Ansuman Biswas and Jem Finer, Andrew Kotting, Dr Antony Bull, Morag Wightman, Louise K Wilson, Flow Motion, Marcelli Antunez Roca, i-DAT, Otolith Group with Richard Couzins, Yuri Leiderman, Vadim Fishkin, Marko Peljhan, Dragan Zivadinov, Andrei and Julia Velikanov, Mikhail Ryklin, and Dr Rebecca Forth.

Publication details

Zero Gravity: A Cultural User’s Guide
ISBN 978-0-9534546-4-8
Edited by Nicola Triscott and Rob La Frenais
Published by Arts Catalyst, 2005
Colour and monochrome, 98 pages, soft back
Dimensions 250mm x 250mm
Weight 510g
£15.00

Buy online at Cornerhouse Books

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Legacy Systems

Artist Carey Young's photographic series Legacy Systems explore the 'Space Race' as a pivotal era in 20th century achievement, capturing images of contemporary Russian sites containing technological artefacts never previously visited and photographed by an artist.

Atomic featured the work of artists James Acord, Mark Aerial Waller, and Carey Young, explored the economic and cultural legacy of atomic power, and was later exhibited at Kluze Fortress, Bovec, Slovenia and Yard Gallery, NOW, Nottingham, UK in 1999.

 

Legacy Systems, the photographic series she produced for the Atomic exhibition, 1998. The ‘space race’ represents an extreme point in the achievements of the twentieth century, not least as a zenith of faith in scientific progress. The Legacy Systems series traced this vision to the heart of contemporary Russia. Young – the first artist to visit the sites she photographed – portrayed these technological crown jewels as they lie stranded in the present, like the scatterings of an unruly time capsule. Removed from the familiar iconography of science fiction or Cold War paranoia, these little-seen giants of the 20th century imagination appear small and vulnerable, like the shock of celebrity glimpsed in the flesh. - See more at: http://www.artscatalyst.org/experiencelearning/detail/panning_for_atomic_gold/#sthash.tl49887J.dpuf
Legacy Systems, the photographic series she produced for the Atomic exhibition, 1998. The ‘space race’ represents an extreme point in the achievements of the twentieth century, not least as a zenith of faith in scientific progress. The Legacy Systems series traced this vision to the heart of contemporary Russia. Young – the first artist to visit the sites she photographed – portrayed these technological crown jewels as they lie stranded in the present, like the scatterings of an unruly time capsule. Removed from the familiar iconography of science fiction or Cold War paranoia, these little-seen giants of the 20th century imagination appear small and vulnerable, like the shock of celebrity glimpsed in the flesh. - See more at: http://www.artscatalyst.org/experiencelearning/detail/panning_for_atomic_gold/#sthash.tl49887J.dpuf
Legacy Systems, the photographic series she produced for the Atomic exhibition, 1998. The ‘space race’ represents an extreme point in the achievements of the twentieth century, not least as a zenith of faith in scientific progress. The Legacy Systems series traced this vision to the heart of contemporary Russia. Young – the first artist to visit the sites she photographed – portrayed these technological crown jewels as they lie stranded in the present, like the scatterings of an unruly time capsule. Removed from the familiar iconography of science fiction or Cold War paranoia, these little-seen giants of the 20th century imagination appear small and vulnerable, like the shock of celebrity glimpsed in the flesh. - See more at: http://www.artscatalyst.org/experiencelearning/detail/panning_for_atomic_gold/#sthash.tl49887J.dpuf
Legacy Systems, the photographic series she produced for the Atomic exhibition, 1998. The ‘space race’ represents an extreme point in the achievements of the twentieth century, not least as a zenith of faith in scientific progress. The Legacy Systems series traced this vision to the heart of contemporary Russia. Young – the first artist to visit the sites she photographed – portrayed these technological crown jewels as they lie stranded in the present, like the scatterings of an unruly time capsule. Removed from the familiar iconography of science fiction or Cold War paranoia, these little-seen giants of the 20th century imagination appear small and vulnerable, like the shock of celebrity glimpsed in the flesh. - See more at: http://www.artscatalyst.org/experiencelearning/detail/panning_for_atomic_gold/#sthash.tl49887J.dpuf
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Attention Weightlessness

A short film documenting The Arts Catalyst's series of research expeditions between 2000 and 2003, taking artists, dancers, film-makers and scientists into weightlessness.

Flights at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Star City, Russia organised by The Arts Catalyst and Project Atol Flight Operations. Material in this film originally appeared in The Arts Catalyst's short films Гора, Artists & Cosmonauts, and Gravitation Off!

Artists included:

  • Marcel.li Antunez Roca (and team)
  • Anna Alchuk 

  • Ansuman Biswas and Jem Finer
  • 
Ewen Chardronnet
  • 
Kitsou Dubois and company
  • 
Vadim Fishkin

  • Flow Motion (Edward George, Anna Piva, Trevor Mattison)
  • 
Stefan Gec
  • 
i-DAT

  • Andrew Kotting

  • Yuri Leiderman

  • Marko Peljhan

  • Mike Stubbs
  • 
Otolith Group with Richard Couzins

  • Andrei and Julia Velikanov

  • Morag Wightman

  • Louise Ki Wilson

  • Dragan Zivadinov

Scientists:

  • Anthony Bull

  • Kevin Fong

  • Rebecca Forth

  • Susan McKenna Lawlor

  • Roger Malina

  • Chris Welch

Philosopher:

  • Mikhail Ryklin

Music extracts:

  • Natacha Atlas, Cosmos Eden, Flow Motion

Partners:

With thanks to the trainers and cosmonauts of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Star City Russia, especially Major Boris Naidyonov

Edited by:

Jack Whiteley

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Russia 2000 Zero Gravity flight

The Arts Catalyst's first zero gravity flight with Kitsou Dubois and other artists and scientists

The Arts Catalyst's pioneering work in opening new environments to artists was focused in 2000/2001 on space: the space agencies, research scientists and space industries. One of the outcomes was our first parabolic 'zero gravity' flight, organised for choreographer Kitsou Dubois in September 2000 with the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia, in collaboration with Projekt Atol Flight Operations, Slovenia.

To train cosmonauts to perform experiments and investigations in real conditions of space flight - zero gravity - in Earth conditions, the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia uses a special flying laboratory on a parabolic trajectory. A parabolic flight creates the conditions of zero gravity - otherwise only experienced for any length of time in orbit or space travel - by putting an aircraft into a series of diving manoeuvres. During each parabola, bodies and objects inside the aircraft float freely for 25 - 30 seconds. A flight will have between 10 and 30 parabolas.

This experimental flight was part of a collaborative research project between choreographer Kitsou Dubois and the Biodynamics Group at Imperial College, London, looking at the control of movement of the body in altered gravities.

Flight participants

Kitsou Dubois & company: Dancers Matturin Bolze, Laura Nercy & Jorg Muller, cameraman Eric Duranteau, designer
Dragan Zivadinov, artist
Professor Susan McKenna-Lawlor, professor of physics, University of Ireland
Mike Stubbs, artist
Dr Chris Welch, lecturer in astronautics, Kingston University
Marko Peljhan, Projekt Atol
Stella Wilkins
Emma Jane Kirby, BBC Radio 4
Nicola Triscott, The Arts Catalyst.

Outputs

Trajectoire Fluide (video), Kitsou Dubois
Zero (video), Mike Stubbs
Zero Gravity (BBC Radio 4 programme), Emma Jane Kirby

Funded by

London Arts Board

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Kefir grains are going onto the flight

Film and installation, commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium

 

Yuri Leiderman’s approach involves different stories and occurrences connected to his personal life experiences and obsessions, and transformed into a sophisticated system of visual signs and codes. 

 

Kefir grains are colonies of special bacteria that look like whitish lumps with a variety of individual bizarre (fractal) forms. Culturing kefir grains in milk, the grains are capable of growing and giving life to their ‘breed’. In this sense they can be regarded as living beings and a good embodiment of Tsiolkovsky's (1) ‘radiant shells of mind,’ that should spread generation by generation and eventually fill the Universe (glass of milk).

 

Yuri Leiderman's project consisted of 3 stages. In the 1st and preliminary stage, the artist grew kefir grains in Moscow to ’train’ them. He then selected the ‘healthiest’ samples and named them according to special rules.

 

After the series of experiments and examinations, he selected around hundred of the most worthy specimens; these were taken on board of a Russian space programme training plane and released into zero gravity. Their behaviour (soaring, destruction, accumulation, etc.) was documented for a film that represents the 3rd stage.

 

The resulting story is representative of many ‘Russian cosmism’ operations, such as Fedorov's (2) "catalogization and preservation" and Tsiolkovsky's "cosmic selection". In this case, all this happens with small, indifferent white lumps - as a metaphor of that movement's grandeur and disaster.

 

The installation comprised texts on the wall, a video work and objects.

 

Yuri Leiderman (born 1963 in Odessa) is a writer and an artist whose practice has been closely related to Moscow Conceptualism. In 1987, along with Sergei Anufreev and Pavel Pepperstein, he founded the Medical Hermeneutics group, which he left in 1990. His work has been shown at prominent venues, the 1st Manifesta in Rotterdam in 1996, the 11th Sydney Biennial in 1998, or the 50th Venice Biennial in 2003, among many others. In 1999 he held his first solo presentation “Circles and Lumps” in Slovenia at Galerija Škuc in Ljubljana.  Yuri Leiderman is currently participating in the 7 Sins. Ljubljana – Moscow Arteast exhibition at Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Ljubljana.

 

The exhibition has been made possible in collaboration with Ministry of Culture of Republic of Slovenia and MOL – Cultural Department of the City of Ljubljana. Special thanks to The Arts Catalyst, Yona Fischer, Andrei Silvestrov and Roman Uranjek.

 

(1) Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857 – 1935) theorised many aspects of human space travel and rocket propulsion decades before others, and played an important role in the development of the Soviet and Russian space programs.

(2) Nikolai Federov (1829 – 1903) believed that humanity was part of a vast teleological history, which would eventually see mankind evolve into super-beings, at which stage every human who had ever lived would be physically reincarnated.

 

Credits

Film made in collaboration with Andre Silvestrov

Commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium (Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol, V2, Leonardo
Olats, Multimedia Complex for Actual Arts)

Flight: MIR Campaign 2003

 

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Celestial Vault

Utilising the vast TsF-18 centrifuge in Star City, Stefan Gec physically recorded the G-force exerted by the centrifuge on a celestial globe.

Globes have a long history of depicting the night sky, and historically celestial globes pre-date the terrestrial globe. Subsequent to their disuse as navigational tools they became collectible objects symbolising truth and knowledge. Gec's specially made sphere had the constellations of the Northern & Southern Hemisphere painted on its surface. The globe was positioned in the void normally occupied by the cosmonaut. Installed in the centrifuge, the hollow 12-inch copper globe was exposed to high G-loads (up to ten times normal gravity), causing it to be subtly deformed by the force exerted upon it. The resulting damage and distress caused by this process indelibly marks the globe’s surface, transforming it from its traditional form into something unique whose physical shape has been dictated by the centrifuge.

Celestial Vault is a response to a different time and movement where something - or someone - is projected into a physical state beyond our usual experiences. Through the use of a representation of space to illustrate this physical force, the work prompts a re-examination of our age-old fascination with the celestial sky.

Credits

Special thanks to Neal White for camera work on Centrifuge TsF-18

Commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium (Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol, V2, Leonardo Olats, Multimedia Complex for Actual Arts)
MIR Campaign 2003

Exhibitions

MIR: Art in Variable Gravity, Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK (Arts Catalyst)

MIR: Dreams of Space, Stills, Edinburgh, UK (Arts Catalyst)

Artists Airshow, Royal Aeronautical Engineering Workshops, Farnborough, UK (Arts Catalyst)

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Transpermia/Project Daedalus, Marcel.li Antunez Roca

A mechatronic conference presenting the Dedalus project and its micro performances at zero gravity as well as the Transpermia theory.

Using the Space Station as a metaphor, Marcel.li Antunez Roca has developed a hybrid show alternating performance, concert and lecture. It is structured in different modules. During the show Ant·nez wears his Dreskeleton (an exoskeletal body interface) and with it he samples, activates and modulates sounds as well as controlling the films projected on two screens.

In the first module he presents some of the mechanical aspects characteristic of his work such as the Fleshbots, the Dreskeletons, the Biometries and the Systematurgy.

The second module takes us through recurrent images in his work.

The third module reveals the end result of the process of preparation for the Dedalus project in Star City in the Russian Federation as well as the micro performances that were carried out during periods of microgravity provided by the parabolas. In these micro performances we witness the Requiem bodybot experiment and the interaction between the dreskeleton, the softbot and the interactive films.

The last module presents the Transpermia theory and at this point the performance becomes more like a conference. Ant·nez proposes a new landscape for a Utopia called Transpermia. He describes some of his prototypes organized in 4 sections:

1 Interface: new devices with which to perceive the world and take part in it

2 Robots: machines as metaphors for life

3 Fleeting Identities: transitory states of personality as a setting for new experiences and knowledge

4 New Creations: models of activity in the Transpermia Utopia

Transpermia premiered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain as part of The Arts Catalyst/MIR conference, Extremophiles.

Credits

  • Conception, direction, drawings & performer: Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca
  • Music: Alain Wergifosse
  • Software: Jesús de la Calle
  • Flash: Gaetano Mangano, Álvaro Uña.
  • Fligth technical: Álvaro Uña, Paco Beltrán.
  • Typography: Carlos Romera
  • Video editing: Sergi Díez.
  • Technical: Paco Beltrán.
  • Grafic assistent: Júlia Rubio, Marc Trafak; Mireia Barberà.
  • Flash programer: Sergi Porter
  • Fligth camera: Begoña Egurbide, Saso Podgorsek
  • Dedal Coordination & Management: Marta Oliveres.
  • Dreskeleton (body interface): EBA.
  • Robot Requiem programmer: Joan Carles Bonet
  • Robot Requiem technical designer: Roland Olbeter
  • Fligth Assistents: CGTC (Yuri Gagarin Trainning Center).
  • Produced by: Panspermia S.L., The Arts Catalyst (MIR project), Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte-INAEM, ICUB- Ajuntament de Barcelona, Departament de Cultura Generalitat de Catalunya.

 

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MIR - Art in Variable Gravity

Exhibition of work from experiments in the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Star City, Russia

"The human race will not stay on Earth for ever, but in pursuit of light and space, will first tentatively break out of the Earth's atmosphere and will then conquer the entire solar system", Konstantin Tsyolkovsky (1857-1935)

When Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth in 1961, he became a hero of the Soviet nation. After his historic flight, he reported that weightlessness was no problem. Despite Gagarin's optimism, however, zero gravity presents an immense problem for long-term human space travel and habitation, due to its harmful effects on the body. Until now, scientists have been the primary researchers in this field, and the aesthetic and creative possibilities of zero gravity have barely been explored due to the exclusiveness of the environment.

The works in the MIR exhibition emerged from the MIR campaigns, organised by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR consortium, which have enabled artists to undertake projects in zero gravity at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, heart of the Russian space programme. Also, for the first time, artist Stefan Gec was allowed access to the giant centrifuge in Star City to create a new work.

 

Events

MIR DJ Event - Fri 7 November 2003
Featuring sets by Kodwo Eshun and Ewen Chardronnet on the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The day remains an official holiday in Russia.

Unknown Territories - Sat 8 November 2003
Panel discussion chaired by Marko Peljhan (Slovenia), artist and founder of the Makrolab project, Venice Biennale 2003, documenta X. Including presentations by Arts Catalyst director Nicola Triscott and curator Rob La Frenais. Also featuring: Ewen Chardronnet (France); Stefan Gec (UK) and Yuri Leiderman (Russia).

Artist In Residence: Ewen Chardronnet
8 November - 29 November 2003
Ewen Chardronnet (Fr), media artist, researcher and writer, was in residence at Cornerhouse, initiating project and research work involving gallery visitors, communities, and other artist networks.

 

Credits

MIR was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium, a group of international organisations including Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol (Slo), V2_Institute for the Unstable Media (NI), Transmediale (D), Leonardo/OLATS (Fr/Us), SpaceArtONe (FR), MoM (Sp) and the Multimedia Complex for Actual Art

Funded by the European Commission Culture 2000 Awards and Arts Council England

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MIR - Dreams of Space

New photographic, installation and video works by British and Russian artists reflecting the enduring legacy of the Russian quest for space.

The works were created in Star City, heart of the Russian space programme, accessng the museums and archives there, as well as zero gravity flights and the giant centrifuge used for cosmonaut training . 50 years after the launch of Sputnik, and at the start of a new millennium, with new aspirations to build the International Space Station and to reach Mars, it is timely that artists are reclaiming these territories, in a contemporary and very direct sense.

 

Using the TsF-18 centrifuge in Star City, Gec recorded the G-force exerted by the centrifuge on a celestial globe. His resulting installation Celestial Vault prompts a re-examination of our age old fascination with the celestial sky. The Otolith Group (Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar.) with Richard Couzins' film Otolith opens up forgotten histories of the Space Age, uncovering a legacy of female exploration. Carey Young's exquisite photographic series Legacy Systems illustrate the remnants of the nuclear fuelled space-race, and the lingering hero worship of Gagarin .

Vadim Fishkin's installation Kapelgraf Zero-G translates time-based data into drops of water, beautifully demonstrating the effects of Earth gravity and zero gravity on the droplets. In Yuri Leiderman's film Kefir Grains Are Going Onto The Flight records his breeding, selection and release of Kefir grains into zero gravity: a metaphor for Russian Cosmism's grandeur and disaster.

Evgeni Nesterov's photographic series documents Star City and the artists' journey there.

Accompanying the exhibition in the Resource Room, the MIR programme of documentary and artists films:
Gravitation Off! The Arts Catalyst
Centrifuge Ewen Chardronnet
The Briefing Ewen Chardronnet
Neutral Buoyancy Ewen Chardronnet
Too G Andrew Kotting
Zero Genie Ansuman Biswas & Jem Finer
Daedalo Marcelli Antunez Roca
Zero Mike Stubbs
Universal Substitute, Andrei & Julia Velikanov

Everything Normal, the equipment is working perfectly

Thursday 07 April 2005

As part of the MIR - Dreams of Space season, Stills and The Arts Catalyst presented a special screening event recalling the early days of the space race. Introduced by Rob La Frenais, curator of MIR and The Arts Catalyst, the programme opens with Attention Weightlessness, a Russian educational film, and continues with films by Acoustic Space Lab, Andrei Ujica, The Priviet Mission, Louise K Wilson, Andrew Kotting and Ansuman Biswas & Jem Finer

Commissioners

MIR was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium, a group of international organisations including Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol (Slo), V2_Institute for the Unstable Media (NI), Transmediale (D), Leonardo/OLATS (Fr/Us), SpaceArtONe (FR), MoM (Sp) and the Multimedia Complex for Actual Art

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