Emily Kane has created a conceptual space advocacy group called Project Moon which explores the relationship between space industry and graphic design. The project renders a new visual aesthetic for contemporary manned space exploration. While nodding to the aesthetic and humanistic contributions to the pursuit of space, she lays out the ambiguity of the terrain ahead. The design, detailed in a palette of black, red, and periwinkle, paints out the major contributions of the past and of areas still to be further explored.
Seeing Emily’s work made me begin obsessively considering/scheming what the aesthetic of space exploration will look like in the near future. 2011 was a pretty monumental year for space: the Shuttle era ended, the International Space Station was officially completed, Earth-like planets were uncovered, commercial space exploration took huge strides and the true stellar standout – 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of human space flight. Future of space exploration is undefined and new aesthetic of space exploration is needed.
During the 1970’s and 80’s, NASA used a red logotype nicknamed the “worm”. Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn created in their words, “a more useful new logotype” as part of the National Endowment of the Arts. It was an effort to design a more modern logo for a space agency that’s forward thinking. Then the Challenger accident happened and the agency was put on hold. In the early 90’s, administrator Daniel Goldin brought back the traditional NASA blue “meatball” with its red chevron and spattering of star in an attempt to herald back to the golden age of space exploration.
Soon manned space travel will not be limited to decorated patriots in uniform flight suits, commercial space exploration is charting new ground, including the aesthetic design of space. Virgin Galatic’s Spaceport America opened this past year; I can’t wait to see what Sir Richard Branson has up his sleeves.
A spacesuit has 27 layers. Like the garments they bear, Adam Devarney’s travelers navigate through a layered patchwork of imagined narratives. Devarney’s pieces were first included in a 2010 exhibition entitled Godspeed, collaged portraits pieced together in a dream-like narrative of hallowed ghosts of aviators past, suited up for a prosperous journey ahead. The Fox is Black reader and Vermont native speaks of his process:
“I’m interested in how narratives arise from simply taking things out of context and thrusting them together,” Deverney says. “How the collage material relates depends on the associations we make with the content. They are almost like dreams to me… Vague fogs, with little snippets of information that allude to some sort of dialogue or story.”
This week’s Space Suit of the Weeek comes from Ric Stultz, an illustrator and painter hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Reaching Out to You, The Dream Got Control, and Sleeping with the Fishes (above) are really playful and rather cheeky, a departure from a lot of the work we feature. After taking a stroll through his portfolio, I was chuckling more often than not. His work feels familiar or rather comfortable – like you’re sharing a recurring childhood dream where imagination was the basis of reality.
The earth is a truly spectacular place. Michael König compiled this video from footage taken by Expedition XXVIII & IXX aboard the International Space Station from August to October 2011. The footage is courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center Image Science & Analysis Laboratory’s Gateway to Astronaut Photography.
König’s compilation includes a number of views of Aurora Borealis & Aurora Australis. One would be quite cosmically fortunate to witness something so spectacular from earth let alone witness it from space- repetitively. Expeditions are long duration missions flown by the Russian Federal Space Agency usually lasting about four months in orbit. These sights, shown above, occur more often than most enough will ever have the opportunity to enjoy (unless you live in the arctic circle).
I tried to calculate how many times one would be able to possibly witness these sights from the International Space Station, but calculus has been long been lost in the dusty archives of my brain. I did however figure that those on board see eighteen sunsets and eighteen sunrises every twenty-four hours. Give or take a couple, an Expedition crew member could witness 2,162 sunsets during a mission. I can’t even begin to fathom what it would feel like to wake up in the morning, look out the window and see the sunset or the green hues of an Aurora Borealis dance across the horizon. Let’s only hope that the crew isn’t jaded by the end of it.
The Lost Astronaut was one of the Performa 09 Biennial performance installations that explored the identity of the astronaut and concept of living on the moon. The activities performed by the lost (female) astronaut were dictated by a slew of other authors and artists–like complete a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, ride a subway line from end point to end point, etc. The work explored a domestic side of space exploration or, rather, the lack thereof.
Framis situates the iconic landing on the moon in the metropolitan American dream. The work is subtle, almost transcendental, as she stops to experience the city in a new, leisurely and monumental fashion.
In a city that never sleeps, its easy to feel lost.
Performa 11, New Visual Art Performance Biennial, is currently underway in New York City. It ends November 21st.
William Immer takes classic portraits persons in social and political power and places them into contemporaneity, making for playful and rich oil paintings. He is associated with Aureus Contemporary and their statement on him explains: “Working with the idea that the history of art is often lost in the broad view of things, Immer started taking a closer look at how people view that history and what exactly they might be looking at. Starting with the language of the observed, he began to take the details into all sorts of visual direction.” Astro-Lady does just that. I honestly don’t know anything about seventeenth century portraiture or the source of inspiration to this piece, but my heart skipped a beat when I first saw it.
This piece reminds me of Kenn Brown and Cris Wren’sBlue Boy Re-Visioned (2004) that Alex wrote about last year. Their Cosmonaut rendition of Gainsbourough’s The Boy Boy (1770) was the cover piece of an anthology of short stories of how the world would be different if various technologies evolved and were successfully applied at an earlier time. Simliarily, Immer’s Astro-Lady could be a fitting cover.
Astro-Lady is shown in the classic astronaut pose in a white EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity, AKA space walk) suit and helmet resting by her forearm. Donned in her Elizabethan collar and bonnet, the colors of Holland are brandished across her arm. I enjoy that she’s wearing an EVA suit whose white color is intended to reflect the sun’s heat so the astronaut doesn’t get too warm. In my opinion, portraiture in the seventeenth century is cold and sterile: Astro-Lady is one intergalactic monarch that I wouldn’t mind paying homage to.
DAL’s newest work, No Surrender, was made in Paris, France this past September. Unlike many of DAL’s other works, this piece is tucked away in an intimate space, enclosed from passersby. The spaceman in No Surrender is traversing through an urban terrain that is being reclaimed by nature: a space that could be easily overlooked, but not forgotten.
While intimate, No Surrender is rather jarring. The spaceman, in DAL’s signature black and white coils, is devoid of a face. He has no identity as does the flag next to him. Its highly reminiscent of Apollo 11 imagery, where astronaut Buzz Aldrin stands next to the lunar flag–but DAL’s No Surrender wipes away the stars and stripes and leaves his space creature empty and full of possibility.
DAL is a street artist hailing from China. After studying sculpture at the NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, he started making street art under the alias DAL in 2004.
Space Farm is one of the newest national public outreach projects undertaken by NASA this Autumn. Seven farms across the country are celebrating the history of the national space program by creating a corn maze that commemorates NASA’s achievements and progress in space. The mazes are created by The MAiZE, the largest cornfield maze consulting and design company.
I will admit that I am quite biased as I look forward to Fall all year round and thought that M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs was brilliant, but I personally believe this is one of the most spectacular ways of engaging the public in space exploration. By embracing the popular lure of paranormal crop circle creation, NASA has repainted the phenomenon to educate and inspire. When embracing the folklore of space exploration, its nice to know that we’re not alone out there.
For more information on participating farms, visit Space Farm 7.
Ansuman Biswas and Jem Finer wrapped in technicolor harem pants, bejeweled waistcoats and golden turbans took the mystic flight of the magic carpet in 2001 Zero Genie. Wonder by wonder, they reconstruct the history of human space flight. Their artist statement reads:
…The Zero Genies are just beginners. Poverty stricken, slightly uncoordinated, and yet noble, they are convinced that space travel is not the exclusive pursuit of the rich and rational Western world. They are here to show that a comfortable carpet and well-packed hookah will suffice.
The genies are flying from inside the magic lamp of Cosmonaut’s Training Center in Star City, Russia. More technically, the intervals of periodic weightlessness occur from the elliptical flight path relative to the center of the Earth.
The genies are stark contrast next to cosmonaut flight attendants in their blue jumpsuits. They recreate the narrative of human space flight, remove it from its conceived place in history books of western developed societies. Biswas and Finer are not supernatural creatures only to awaken from the pages of Arabian Nights and return to human form when their seconds weightlessness fleet- they are dreamers and believers who are only bound by the limits of their imagination.
Revered Richard Avedon edited and photographed the April 1965 Harper’s Bazaar. The issue was devoted to youth culture- “Pop, Rock, and the Sexual Revolution”.The cover, which made the American Society of Magazine Editor’s 2005 list of Top 40 Magazine Covers, features Jean Shrimpton in a Day-Glo space helmet. The image has been highly reproduced as an emblem of the sixties when Mod was king and the Space Race dominated popular culture.
The issue was a guidebook to the cultural now. The edition features spacesuit inspired fashions of André Courrèges, the likeness of ‘60s megastars like the Beatles as well as the rising talent of Andy Warhol, Roy Lictenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and others.
I especially enjoy the images of “the Shrimp”, some shown above. Shrimpton was the It girl of 1960s fashion and became the face of off-beat culture. Avedon couldn’t have picked a better model to be his galaxy girl. At a time when the idea of a female astronaut was unheard of, Shrimpton was the face of youth culture.
The worlds of fashion and space industry in the 1960s collided. Alex previously posted about Nicholas de Monchaux’s bookSpacesuit: Fashioning Apollo which among other things discusses how Playtex, the brassiere manufacturer, secured the contract to make the Apollo Spacesuits.