Less Remote: The Futures of Space Exploration - An Arts and Humanities Symposium

Less Remote was a two day symposium at the 59th International Astronautical Congress in Glasgow, where artists, thinkers and writers met to discuss the future of space exploration.

The Less Remote symposium aimed to foster a dialogue and exchange between the cultural and space communities. It was organised on the occasion of the 59th International Astronautical Congress in Glasgow, which hosted the symposium. Artists, thinkers and writers contributed to the debates about going back to the Moon and on to Mars, living in space, art in zero gravity, the future of the International Space Station, and the search for life and human origins in scientific missions.

Less Remote featured presentations by Tomas Saraceno, Agnes Meyer Brandis, Marko Peljhan, Zbigniew Oksiuta, Rachel Armstrong, Andy Miah, Sarah Jane Pell, Fraser MacDonald, Nina Czegledy and many others.

Less Remote was organised by Flis Holland and Arts Catalyst, in association with Leonardo and OLATS. The symposum was co-sponsored by the IAA Commission VI

Organisational Committee

Flis Holland, Arts Catalyst, Leonardo, Leonardo/Olats

Peer Review Committee

Flis Holland (Chair), Annick Bureaud (Leonardo / OLATS), Rob La Frenais (Arts Catalyst), Roger Malina (IAA Commission VI), Michael Punt (Leonardo), Sundar Sarukkai (Centre for Philosophy, Indian National Institute of Advanced Studies), Nicola Triscott (Arts Catalyst)

Advisory Committee

Martha Blassnigg, Lowry Burgess, Stephen Dick, Bernard Foing, Roger Malina, Takuro Osaka, Jean-Luc Soret


Arts Council England, IAA Commission VI

Individual speakers and artists at the symposium were sponsored by:
The Goethe Institute, Glasgow, CAP Research Fund, Solent University, The Australian Network for Art & Technology - Professional Development Travel Fund.

Media Coverage

"Glasgow space congress brings it all home : Intergalactic travel is still humanity’s greatest party tricK" - Allan BrownTimes Online review

Sarah Jane Pell review



Tomas Saraceno is an artist and architect from Argentina, with a utopian vision for cities that float in the air, changing form and joining together like clouds. Saraceno is inspired by soap bubbles, spider webs, neural networks, or cloud formations, which are speculative models for alternate ways of living. These structures challenge ideas about nationality and property, intending to reshape notions about social space and human behaviour. Saraceno’s innovative ideas do not rely on the restrictions of our natural landscapes, instead, the series of experimental structures can be inhabited and exploit natural energies.
Agnes Meyer-Brandis is an artist based in Berlin, Germany and has been involved in two major Arts Catalyst initiatives. Meyer-Brandis’ artistic practice is influenced by scientific research focused on the exploration of new worlds. Meyer-Brandis is the founder and director of the Research Raft for Subterranean Reefology (FFUR) which has explored deep in the dark zone above the earth and ice. 
Rachel Armstrong works with international scientists and architects to explore cutting-edge, sustainable technologies that take the form of new materials that possess some of the properties of living systems. By creating living materials such as, paint that can 'eat' carbon dioxide and change colour when it is 'full' cities will be able to participate in cleaning up the environment and even repairing some of the damage that we've already created. Collaborative work with architect Philip Beesley has been nominated for a Katerva Award in the field of Urban Design. Rachel is Co-Director of AVATAR (Advanced Virtual and Technological Architectural Research) in Architecture & Synthetic Biology at The School of Architecture & Construction at the University of Greenwich, London. Senior TED Fellow, and Visiting Research Assistant at the Centre for Fundamental Living Technology, Department of Physics and Chemistry, University of Southern Denmark.
Dr. Sarah Jane Pell is an independent artist, commercial diver, explorer and researcher. She aspires to be amongst the first generation of artists to work in outer space. Her pioneering practice seeks to embody, and critique, the culture of exploration and redefine our visions of future worlds from sea, to summit, to space. She performs expressively and builds novel prototype apparatus to test and communicate from the field. Artifacts include sculptural, technical, poetic and media events. Her work promotes physical conditioning, creative visualisation and communication. Dr. Pell is the first artist to graduate from the International Space University and Singularity University, she was awarded Best PhD Art & Science by Leonardo AS, MIT 2007. She is an experienced occupational diver, aquatic performer and art-science collaborator. She is currently Co-Chair of the European Space Agency (ESA) Topical Team Arts & Science, Senior Space Art Consultant to Icarus Interstellar, RMIT Visiting Fellow and TED Fellow. She is working on Bending Horizons 2015-2017: documenting her own expression during extreme art adventures in space analogue environments undersea, at altitude and in microgravity. She aims to contribute new knowledge on human behaviours, biosensory media and communication design for extreme performance.