Mutamorphosis // Challenging Art & Science Conference, Prague 2007

  • Bioteknia, Mutamorphosis Conference 2007
  • Sarah Jane Pell, Hydromedusa slide 2 2007
  • Sarah Jane Pell, Hydromedusa slide 3 2007
  • Sarah Jane Pell, Hydromedusa slide 4 2007
  • Speakers, Mutamorphosis Conference 2007

Hydromedusa: from undersea to outer space

Sarah Jane Pell


Extreme Bodies in Extreme Spaces

In the late 20th century, the architectural drivers for art, technology and human performance in outer space were about reliable, predictable, cost-effective short-duration mission-rated transhumanism. As we propose longer space mission durations, human-related space architectures and life support systems including water, air and waste requirements, must meet the more challenging needs of crew health, and the political and economic utilities of our time. Further research to understand the effects of the space environment on human performance and develop innovative dual-use architectures and physical and psychological countermeasures is critical.

This paper considers the potential body shocks associated with future long-duration habitation of outer space from previous data in combination with predicative imagination and creative design in response to some of these challenges. I introduce ‘Hydromedusa’: a hybrid performance lab that proposes aquatic arts and biomimetic strategies in the development of innovative architecture, philosophy and choreography in weightless environment training (WET) spaces, to illustrate how innovative systems approaches could contribute to countermeasures with follow on research.

'Hydromedusa' employs aesthetic strategies for the design and fabrication of a prototype saline-filled hydromedusa (or sea jelly) inspired WET suit. It functions as a second skin for an artist/aquanaut in WET spaces to devise a new site-specific WET space movement repertoire. Aqueous architectures have proven usefulness in shielding humans from radiation in outer space. Prior studies have also shown water immersion as a potential countermeasure for maintaining orthostatic tolerance and exercise capacity during extended space missions.[1] Full-bodied immersion also provides a much-desired non-vibrational and omni-directional resistance on the body and, coupled with exercise, or hydrotherapy has the potential to counter muscle atrophy, bone demineralisation and cardiac arrhythmias whilst providing noted psychological benefit.

Building on STS-40 studies of hydromedusa and how they adapt to microgravity conditions, the artist-researcher will compare the vestibular function, propulsion and performance of the sea jelly with human behaviours underwater and in the WET suit. Data from embedded bend sensors/ fibre optics or variable resistance strips fitted to the joints of the WET suit itself and the artist’s body with digital real-time visual psychometric blogging strategies will track the human behavioural patters. Extenuated underwater ‘play’ will be encouraged without drill training time-tagged manoeuvres designed to ingrain utilitarian sensorimotor adaptation as is the case for astronaut suit tests. The range of motions of the hydro biotech fission body will be interpreted and relayed to audiences through performance and web mediums along with all of the biotelemetry and bio acoustic data. Imagine a new type of being and behaviour that might be born of the artistic communication, creation and technology between two axially, inversely-related spectrums: the depths of the oceans and the infinity of space; and the growth systems of the hydromedusa and the lifecycles of the humanoid. Hydromedusa seeks to ask: Is our survival as a space-faring species dependent on an in uterine-style aqueous biotech fission and subsequently facing the next frontier of sub humanism?

- Pell 2007

1.Clement, G., Pevy-Le Traon A., Centrifugation as a countermeasure during actual and simulated microgravity: a review. Eur J. Appl. Physiol 92(3): 235-48 (2004) P. 1-13


Challenging Art & Sciences Conference

Prague, Czech Republic | 9 -11 Nov 2007

Artists and scientists from all over the world came together to address a theme of extreme and hostile environments, a theme that stands important in our changing world and society. The conference was organized by CIANT | International Centre for Art and New Technologies as part of the ENTER3 festival and in the framework of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Leonardo journal and ISAST – the International Society for Art, Science and Technology.


Sarah Jane Pell 2007

Finding Your Brain In Amniotic Fluid, 2007 The beginning of a metaphysic observation collaboration Behdad Rezazadeh [] and Dr. Sarah Jane Pell
Finding Your Brain In Amniotic Fluid © Behdad Rezazadeh 2007.

Hydromedusa Project Objectives


To develop a wearable, self-contained aqueous architecture for use by humans in weightless environment training (WET) conditions.


The WET suit shall: 1. reference the principals and anatomy of the hydromedusa in their natural underwater habitat and recorded adaptation to microgravity conditions; 2. contain build in breathing systems (BIBS); adequate exhausts; adjustable buoyancy control; quick-release evacuation mechanisms; 3. be made of non-corrosive, durable, transparent, and non-irritant material; 4. be fitted with two-way audio and visual communication devices; 5. contain water-proofed biotelemetry including but not-limited to ECG, thermal response, CO2/O2 Respiration, optical reflex and pulse; 6. 7. consider the integration of 6 point fully-water-tight blue-tooth motion sensors; GPS and vision capture and relay devises in the design of future generation models.


Consider cultural awareness responsible enforcement (CARE) and the aesthetics of life support at each point of choreographic and technological systems testing.


Use multi-media pathways to map and charter enhanced vestibular understanding of spatial adaptation, cognition, and orientation and performance capability in WET spaces.


Contribute to discussions about the role of artists in innovative engineering and the determination of human factors in frontier space activities.


Construct a wider forum and therefore audience for hybrid arts laboratories through careful nurturing of collaborative relationships, considering audience expectations and points of entry into the work; and definition of clearly achievable, incremental goals.

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