Week 8 Blog _ Space Art _ Sarah Van Cleve

During class on Tuesday we learned a lot of facts and information about space and alike but seeing as this is a “Design Media Arts” class I decided to look into ways artists have expressed themselves in space (“outer-space”, not empty space just in case that needs clarification).

One of the coolest pieces of “space art” that I found was a sculpture called “Orbiting Unification Ring Satellite” or “O.U.R.S.” The structure never actually came to being but the idea behind it is really interesting. The structure was meant to celebrate the advent of the new millennium and promote global unanimity as a giant ring large enough to be seen by the naked eye by viewers on Earth. The original design had O.U.R.S. measuring one kilometer in diameter with a ring thickness measuring about thirty meters—large enough that it would appear to be a quarter of the size of the moon. Using a new technology which was being developed by the European Space Agency, the “artists” were going inflate the large structure and upon reaction with solar energy the special material made of a laminate of Kevlar, Kapton and an ultra-violet sensitive resin the “Inflatable Space Rigidized Structure” was supposed to harden as it was. Unfortunately this costly project was never built because of a lack of significant financing but the idea behind this literally gigantic symbol of worldwide unity is an awesome piece of “theoretical art.”


Another piece of space art I like was designed as a precursor to O.U.R.S. The idea was first proposed in 1988 as a way to mend the sore feelings that still existed at the end of the Cold War, particularly those between the two superpowers with space programs: Russia and the United States. The project was called “O.U.R. Space Peace Sculpture” and in a similar matter to O.U.R.S. it was a white ring, this one measuring only six meters in diameter though. The word “peace” was written on the outer covering of the ring in every language that is spoken throughout the world. In 1992 the Space Peace Sculpture was deployed on a spacewalk on the Mir Space Station using similar inflatable technology to that which was meant to be used for O.U.R.S.

On September 3, 1995 it is said that the first art exhibition in space took place. The exhibit, called Ars Ad Astra, was a presentation of twenty pieces of artwork in the Russian Mir Space Station. The European Space Agency asked artists worldwide submissions on the theme “Space and Humanity.” The artwork was judged by the cosmonauts and in the end the American Elisabeth Carol Smith for her “When Dreams Are Born” (see image below). Though this exhibit in space may not seem too exciting I thought that cosmonaut Thomas Reiter’s enthusiasm for art was inspiring: “…and let me tell you that there are many things here on board which keep us alive, of course technical systems which produce oxygen to breathe, water to drink which clean the air from carbon dioxide, food and all these things which help to keep us alive, life support systems. But I can tell you that this kind of thing (he holds up an art work from ars ad astra) are a part of what is necessary to keep us alive, to keep the memory to the Earth, to our families, to our friends, to the nature.”

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