Virtual Creativity (2017) Intellect Journal, UK
Performing Astronautics: Following the body’s natural edge to the abyss of space
Volume 7, Number 1, 1 June 2017, pp. 53-61(9)
For the earth-bound artist, simply imagining having an extended microgravity experience and orbital perspective is a delicious phantasmagorical feat, but the chance to embrace the astronaut 2.0 of the commercial spaceflight era is fast becoming a reality (Armstrong 2014: 131). As a live artist I have gained valuable insights by working as a commercial diver and simulation astronaut, and I am now training for suborbital flight (Pothier 2014: 121). The aim of my body of work is to develop effective research strands and successful partnerships that will address the urgent need for knowledge of changes in human expression caused and inspired by these extreme environmental interactions. The underexplored bodily transformation beyond the impact of the Earth’s environment inspires new directions in my work from sea, to summit, to space. Performing Astronautics (2017–18) builds on my ongoing experimental and emerging aquatic arts practice (Pell 2014: 98). Its ambition is to first address the challenge of translating first-person tacit knowledge embedded in the astronautic body (Garan 2015) and connecting this with existing theoretical understandings of space-based embodiment from an Earth-based logic (Pell and Mueller 2016) (grounded, pedestrian, linear) and sea-based sensitivity (buoyant, hydrous, flowing) (Pothier 2014: 123) and then, by connecting performing arts practice with astronautics, externalizing how space impacts the human body/mind cadence to alter motion, rhythm, and perception of time/place spatiality in new ways. The opportunity to harness the oftenintangible qualities of microgravity experience into an Earthly practice proposes to start to build somatic or corporeal literacy of the environmental impact of outer space on contemporary performance. New strategies for space adaptation, greater opportunities for personal expression and degrees of freedom, and interdisciplinary knowledge transfer for future mission performance may also arise.