Rob Bunzl (American choreographer)
/ David Lakein (American interdisciplinary performer),
16 04 1999
SEABRA: What was your reaction when I told you about the ISADORA Module?
BUNZL: I said yeah OK; can I go? But since then I've been thinking about it. I'm not so sure now. I don't know what it would be like physically to go there. I don't know what kind of things you can do scared physical. I have sort of half jokingly fantasized about doing a choreography on the moon with enormous jumps and that sort of stuff but that's about as far as I have gone.
For the kind of work that I do, I am fascinated by area work and all that. The whole idea of weightlessness is incredibly fascinating. Also working with objects. When I see on television things from outerspace, people in the space modules, things floating around, it could be amazing. And if you were to take that with a dancers, the physical possibilities, reaching, stretching and just kind of floating... amazing possibilities.
SEABRA: What specific aspects about being orbit would you like to explore?
BUNZL: Without having been there I'm aware that everybody who has been in space has had an enormous kind of existential experience about seeing the planet that way. Aspects are: existential experience, seeing the planet that way and the idea of traveling around. I'm also an artist who responds a great deal to; first I do research on a question and then I make the piece by being in the situation. It's little to difficult for me to grasp exactly what I might do.
SEABRA: What do you want to take?
BUNZL: Right now my particular interest is in equipment but then, of course, such a situation would be full of equipment that belongs there. Surely I would be very interested in using that.
SEABRA: What equipment are you talking about?
BUNZL: In my work now I use a lot of ropes and pulleys and things that lift things and hang things, and curtains that all belong to the theatre. So I would want to work with what belongs in the space world. And of course I always have these pictures of people in suits with some kind of umbilical chords and all kinds of special equipment, special tools. I would like to do some research as to what is available (mobile rings). Sorry, I'm getting a call from Earth. Hello? Who is this? I'm being interviewed in outerspace.
I'm interested in the whole idea of researching the equipment that is up there already and I am also interested in the traditions of oral story telling and all its mythical, archetypal sort of imagery, things like that.
BUNZL: (((Tells mother moon story having love for humanity (Scottish))))
SEABRA: ((((explaining the name ISADORA)))
SEABRA: What would you expect ISADORA to contain?
BUNZL: Well, I think it depends a little bit on the concept of what the performance or project I was developing. If it was going to be something that would include some kind of minimal space-wise space in which to operate, that would be primarily seen via television, I guess I would need a small space in which things could float, with the possibility of picking up sound for the performer who's speaking; some amount of room to move in. On the other hand I could also imagine wanting to do things outside. Then, of course, the sky is the limit.
SEABRA: What would you expect from it psychologically?
BUNZL: The fact that it is already in orbit would bring about reflections on the position of man in relation to universe and the significance of that, or the lack of significance of it. And reflecting on the position of man in relation from our center out rather than out to in. Which again has a lot to do with my work anyway. This whole in and out thing. It's basically about identity and relationships. Yeah, the mystery of being alive. So this other perspective, this stepping away, back from this place we take for granted as being our total reality can open all kinds of exciting things... profound. And perhaps as a response to that I might choose to make the thing extremely microscopic in order to let that be more obvious by the context, it might be a very private experience of one individual as opposed to the cosmic dimension that person finds himself in, or in which we see that person.
SEABRA: Do you know anything about the ISS?
BUNZL: No, I don't.
SEABRA: Have you seen any images?
BUNZL: No, not this particular one. Of course I have images of space stations in general.
SEABRA: What would fascinate you about the ISS?
BUNZL: Is it bridge to other exploration?
SEABRA: Some say it will serve as a bridge to go back to the Moon and to send a manned mission to Mars.
BUNZL: There is a book by Timothy Leary called Neuro Politics in which he makes a very funny and provocative proposal. He's talking about a future situation where there will be a number of scientific possibilities which are almost there now, some of them are still coming. He breaks it down into a formula: s.m.i2.l.e or Space Migration Intelligence Increase and Life Extension. He says that in a short period of time it will be possible for people to migrate to space. He says, for example, that people owning medium size houses, say a community of 2000 people, the amount of money invested in those two thousand houses could also be invested in a space ship that would enable those people to form a community and migrate into space therefore creating their own rules, a community with their own rules with their own reality map. And that goes along with the idea of life extension because if we at one point achieve the point of prolonging our lives indefinitely then if you are going to migrate into space you are really going to need to be able to do that in order to make it to where ever you are going. And the third thing he thinks is very important is this intelligence increase because, he says, imagine what a nightmare it would be to have Frank Sinatra at the age of 500 still singing Strangers in the Night or Richard Nixon being president of the United States in 500 years. That would be a problem. We would have to renew ourselves in terms of our awareness. He basically compares that to what was going on in the colonial times of Europe expanding in which ships were being manned by groups of people (in that case who were not being chosen on an agreement on a particular life concept but were being chosen because they were in prison or whatever). Basically there were these large groups of people going out on ships to a new land and establishing a new reality. He believed that once space trade becomes a reality that this will also work this way that people will need man power for that. So he was thinking of high-jacking such a space vehicle. The idea of creating alternative worlds. Anyway, I could play around with such concepts.
SEABRA: It would be fun to put that theory to practice on a module level on the space station; this module is mine. Here are my rules!
BUNZL: In a way, if you do an art project, that is what you are doing anyway. You are creating an alternative reality with your values.
SEABRA: (((I talk about space law and how modules are under the jurisdiction of the country they are launched from)))
SEABRA: I would worry about the U.S. launching an art module.
BUNZL: Because they would decide to cut all the funding and then you couldn't get back (laughs).
SEABRA: It has to be launched from the French Guyana.
BUNZL: If the U.S. launched one it would probably be a Disneyland module.
SEABRA: In space you would have a potential audience of 6 astronauts. What comes to mind?
BUNZL: I think the contrast between intimate audience and this vast anonymous audience which will probably be half the planet is quite an interesting thing to play with. In that sense it reminds me of some of the feelings I've had when I've been on radio. That you have this small group of people in the studio but you also know that, it's like whispering in the ear of a million people . You don't know how many people are actually listening.
SEABRA: That's curious.
BUNZL: Yeah. The vast unknown. And that's one of the recurring or constant themes of my work is the contrast between the intimacy of human presence and the vastness of some monumental space. I go out on locations that are quite monumental and, of course, a space station is enormously monumental in that sense. I could also imagine developing some ideas for involving the six astronauts in some form. The choreographic aspects or the physical theatre aspects have a lot to do with the weightlessness with the new problems with that kind of situation. My interests are not purely choreographic. It involves text, it involves of projections and involves media and I would see that these elements are very important in this thing as well. The idea that you transmit your idea to the whole world besides those six people. So yeah, think it is actually very interesting.
((( Here I offered the interviewees a "sensation interlude", a sensory run-through, in which I told artists what the physical effects of being in Earth's orbit would be. I described the following sensations one feels when in space; sensations that are well documented in space medical literature: click here to read sensations)))
SEABRA: If one of the major space agencies invited you to go up and they said you have to write us a proposal and talk about one aspect you want to explore in space, what aspect would that be?
BUNZL: I could do that but I would want all the information you just gave me and all the other things that I've ever thought about I would have to sit down and sort in some kind of order and see what emerges from all that and see what the actual underlying theme is .
SEABRA: That's why I would eventually like to come back to you.
BUNZL: I think that certainly the whole issue of time and place. The speculation of how we perceive time and space. There's a whole lot of work that has been done, for example, space as we know it here on this planet is not something that pre-exists but is something that gets created in our mind. We develop a model of what 3 dimensional space is and time because we move. We are born into a situation in a space that already exists. In a sense we create the space as we move by moving. These are some of the neurological discoveries that they've been making. That, of course, doesn't mean that you and I couldn't agree on the dimensions of this street but it does mean that, if we were in a totally different situation like that one, the perceptions are going to be radically different. Of how we actually determine where we are and as time is passing for example 45 minute days and so on. My personal experience with time is that it is an extremely fluid medium. I don't find any sort of regularity in it. Sometimes I pass through an hour in which I go through so much and sometimes three weeks pass and it seems like less has happened. So it's an extremely expandable medium. The idea of 45 minute days and nights doesn't seem to make any difference to me somehow and yet if we were born in space and we had that all the time, then our hours would be a different length. We are measuring that experience by our experience here. So it's all very interesting stuff to think about.
SEABRA: In terms of the venue, would you want something malleable or designed?
BUNZL: Just let it be a space module with it's equipment that belongs there . So far I think of it as a very site specific project. I don't think of going into space and transforming it into a... although it might be funny to do; transform it into a very cozy living room or into a... depending on the development of the concept of the project. I work in two ways; one way is that I work site specifically in that I let the location determine much and the other way is that (what I think I prefer) is to project some sort of fictional reality in the an existing location. So I would take an industrial building and project a very intimate kind of warm reality into it which normally doesn't belong there; a fantasy projected and materialized in this place which doesn't belong somehow. So that idea put into this module could lead to creating some kind of other kind of reality. And, of course, that would have all kinds of conceptual content reasons; how human beings want to bring their reality with them even though they find themselves totally... like people who move to new cultures and bring their own food along in an isolated environment somehow and how that works or doesn't work. I think the whole thing of travel and migration would be a big issue in this thing.
SEABRA: Would you like to be a part of a focus group?
BUNZL: I don't know if I would want to go into space and go through all that stuff but I think the speculations are very interesting. But I find the prospects interesting.
Interdisciplinary performance artist
history/philosophy BA education
SEABRA: What was your first reaction?
LAKEIN: I had a visual one. I saw myself floating in space. But actually, I think before you told me about it or at the very beginning you mentioned this French choreographer doing parabolic flights and since I have seen video footage of people in this parabolic airplane. That was a very strong image to me. So I saw myself in the airplane floating through space. So it was more attached to the airplane than the actual space module.
SEABRA: Would you go into space?
LAKEIN: Definitely. I think there is so much about my research that has to do with understanding and clarifying my relationship with gravity. Just now I started Aikido and I think that one of my main motivations is to get even more grounded and see how I can use gravity much more. One of the amazing things would be to relate to gravity after having related to non-gravity.
SEABRA: What aspects about being in Earth's orbit would you explore?
LAKEIN: I think there would be this initial euphoria, overwhelming sense that you're looking down at Earth so... I think I don't know. I think initially it would be some mental journey. I don't know if that would be the same thing. Somehow trying to record, capture and give expression to that through movement. Improvising with text, whatever. What is that about? What is that sudden newness? Being in a different relationship to the Earth. That's the first thing that comes to mind if I didn't go up already with a pre-determined project. For me it would be very interesting in a kind of experiential way to give all those emotions, feelings, observations an expression in an artistic sort of way. It's like when you go out to the woods and you dance; you improvise based on the atmosphere, the surrounding, the architecture if you will, the landscape, the forest. Working with levels and light and there would be a similar thing there: And of course there would be the added weightlessness situation.
There's going to be video, sound, written text. Those would be the 3 things that people on earth would get from you either by direct feed or delay. It seems to me that something like this is not just about my experience. Through my improvisations classes, I'm trying to give the audience the experience of where I am. So it would be a similar thing. How can I do that in space? How could I give the audience the experience of being weightless? On one level. Then there would be all the other philosophical, metaphysical just that on the pure performance level. How do you convey that to people?
SEABRA: What would you take with you?
LAKEIN: I would like to have extremely two small non-obstructive microphones taped to me at all times. One would be on my heart, and one would be recording what I was speaking. Ideally, I would have that and it would be very small and unobtrusive and it would be on 24 hour record. I guess for me personally that could take the place of just wanting to record the thoughts. I don't know if pen and paper would be appropriate in space. But definitely the desire would be there to have materials that would allow me to record my experience.
But I also think I would bring a few normal daily ritual things. I don't know if you can smoke in space but I would bring cigarettes and a lighter. I would bring a toothbrush. I would bring things that are so much a part of daily life, but involving objects. Those are good because they are small and don't weigh much. So maybe stuff like that. Maybe you can rediscover those things in a weightless environment.
SEABRA: What do you expect it to have?
LAKEIN: I'm a little pre-loaded, what's the word? I've seen an image of it so I know that in it's current version it's very empty and sleek. I don't know. I would imagine it would be very interesting to have things that are gravity controlled, Earth things like a chair. To have a chair in space. Some kind of objects from Earth. So it's not just about being in the empty weightless space. How could you through objects make some connections with Earth. Yeah, I know it's about going to a place that isn't about Earth, it's about weightlessness and those other things. But maybe that would be a desire to have access to some of those things. Definitely music whether that would be a live musician or something else. Could you pipe in sound from space? What does space sound like? Can you pipe in sound into the module? Could you pipe in video image? Good question.
SEABRA: What do you expect psychologically or emotionally from the ISADORA Module?
LAKEIN: I don't know if this is a direct answer but the thing that comes to mind is it seems to me that the environment has to balance two different needs; one is that it is neutral enough to be filled with the whole palette of possible artistic expressions, and yet specific, characteristic enough that it provides a sense of home, not just a sleek silver space capsule thing. Seems to me that it has to find a real balance between those because if it is too specific then I think it could limit things that would come up.
SEABRA: What would fascinate you about being on the ISS?
LAKEIN: I'm assuming that I would be able to access most of the space station and that there would be a specific module that would be the so called artistic lab. But I would be free to... What comes to mind is what I spoke about: What would it be to be in the ISADORA Module with, let's say, your toothbrush and toothpaste brushing your teeth? What would it be like to be up there and to be exposed to and confronted by what those people were doing? Whatever it was, scientific experiments or capturing visual images or working with space radio waves, whatever it is they are all doing up there. So it could actually be extremely rich to go out into the whole space station to act as a sponge. Get that experience, either as a passive observer, predominantly as a passive observer. The question would be to what extent would you be active? Not that I would be assisting in an experiment since I don't have the educational background for that, but still, there's something about that. What would it mean to go out and take those experiences back? For me that would be the interesting thing other than just a pure curiosity level. How could I relate that back to my own investigation, research in the ISADORA module?
The opportunity there that could be so rich is how is science and art connected? How can science inspire art? How can an experiment with crystals enter my awareness, conscienceness and be given an expression in this supposedly more artistic space? So that would be my kind of interest; that and then the reverse. What is it for me to have an experience in ISADORA and go out and ... I would like to have knowledge of the experiments. I would also like to have studied the design of the space station If I had some kind of basic knowledge how could I as an artist, based on my experience in the ISADORA Module, provide them with a fresh perspective. Possibly cross-pollination would be more of a.... But then that's completely different territory, but still... Is it just this weird freaky artist in the last pod on the left in the ISADORA Module just freaking out doing their thing or what is the relationship, the inter-relationships?
SEABRA: You will potentially have an audience of billions and an audience of six. What comes to mind?
LAKEIN: The biggest possibility is what I mentioned earlier. How am I conveying to people on Earth (in a gravity filled environment) what it is to be weightless, what it feels like or what the experience is to move, improvise or say text or act. Of course, with the audience of 6 astronauts they are in the same situation, so I don't need to do that. We are all weightless so I think that would be the difference between that audience and the one on Earth. They can see me live in close proximity rather than on some monitors thousands of miles away. But I think a way they could be used would really be... because they are in the same environment to really be able to give that kind of feedback. I think what would be great is if those astronauts were really willing to give expression to their experience. I think it would be equally crucial who those people were and if they could process and give expression to their experiences watching whatever it is that the artists are doing in the ISADORA Module either through written form, spoken form or whatever. And the other possibility I could see is because I'm really interested in interactive theatre performance, interactive theatre forms where you involve the public there, you have an opportunity to do that... you could involve the distant public, in certain ways if you think of web-based virtual performance, people could type in directions to the dancers, so you could have that and other possible connections with Earth-based audience but with those guys you could bring them into the space and do something. So that would be the other main benefit with having the astronauts right there.
A audience of a billion is so vast. I guess the possibilities are endless. First of all I think you would just have to chew on that a bit, you would have to really enter that mind-frame. What does it mean to be seen by a billion people? I can't conceive of that. I don't know if you can. The average person may have, in his or her life time, the experience of being maybe with 60-100,000 people, like in a large football stadium or if you go to a demonstration. But a billion is a couple more zeros and it's a billion faceless people. To get into that, to be able to discover the possibilities, I think is the right word that you are using, I think a lot of, prep work needs to be done. And I think what that involves is understanding yourself on more of a virtual level. Because people are seeing you as data, as digital information. Basically your live analog person becomes digitized, sent down to the Earth. So I think for the performer, whatever their discipline is, they would need to really enter that world. In a way they are kind of the avatar, a real live avatar for a billion potential viewers. So that I think is really important. And only then when I'm there and working with virtual reality exercises, (a lot of those things would be a part of that) I think only then would the artist in the ISADORA Module be in a state to discover what the possibilities are other than the very obvious ones. Like you can communicate to so many people at once. You cut through national, political, ethnic, religious boarders. Other than all those obvious things like unifying humanity. I don't mean to belittle that. That for me would be the key to unlocking the question: What are the possibilities with communicating with a billion people at the same time.
SEABRA: Which high-profile artist would you nominate to go into space to create works?
LAKEIN: I can't give you a specific person but one idea is; some kind of Butoh performer. I think Butoh performers are able to access a different relationship with time and just sink into a different cellular vibrational level. So I think some famous Butoh performer. They are so in touch with Earth and nature and, for example, the time it takes for a leaf to grow. They work so much with imagination, visualization, so I would say a Butoh person.
Dizzy Gillespie? But I guess he's not around. Miles Davis? The advantage of a smaller instrument is that you can be more mobile. It's a bit cumbersome but I can think of a couple of contrabass players. I don't know. My personal favorite in terms of the pop star category would be Prince. Prince for me is galactic. He's cosmic. He's on a different level. I think he's doing something with his commercial pop music which is accessing some kind of different thing. He really, for me, transcends the commercial. He is totally commercial but he transcends it. I would choose him as the commercial pop culture icon person. But that's nice to think about. It's really nice to think about .
SEABRA: In terms of the venue, would you want something malleable or designed?
LAKEIN: Well, that's kind of what I brought up earlier which is this thing of how neutral is it that it can be filled or how filled is it so you can respond to it. What if you can even eliminate that choice? What if you could have both? What if you could design it so that you could make it the metaphorical or equivalent of the Kitchen, the black box but you could also very quickly produce this fabulous Catalan Theatre. That would be the most interesting if you could do both. If you had to choose: I would choose more neutral because artists do not have experience in space. Maybe "pure" is the wrong word, but somehow in these very baby step embryonic explorations it is enough that you are weightless. On the other hand you could argue because it is so new you're lost and you need something to hold on to and if you had something that was more homey or not necessarily homey but something more specific. Then that would then maybe give you a greater sense of tranquillity, peacefulness so you could then research more. For me, personally, I think the other would work better because then I would focus more on my physical experience and my mental process. And I think that I would be enough inspired an explorer I wouldn't necessarily need that outside impulse that would come from this pink stained glass window thing. But I want to emphasize; I think you can design the thing that it could have both. You could do that and very easily. And maybe what you really need, as one of the first artists, is maybe you need a scenographer, architect or set designer person to go up. Well, obviously to be involved in the initial thing but what is it to have someone like that with that kind of background as a part or not as a more supportive role, but while all the other people are doing that thing, he or she could either, during the time that the other people are working or during breaks, switch things around and turn it into a pink egg and then turn it back into a black box or into a white box, you know?
((( Here I offered the interviewees a "sensation interlude", a sensory run-through, in which I told artists what the physical effects of being in Earth's orbit would be. I described the following sensations one feels when in space; sensations that are well documented in space medical literature: click here to read sensations)))
SEABRA: What do you want to talk about? What would you create up there?
SEABRA: Yeah product.
LAKEIN: Somehow I get stuck in this idea of just this kind of standard question and I think a lot of people in my field talk a lot about for themselves and figure out in their work is how much are you improvising or how much are you setting work? Somehow it seems so clear to me that setting work is totally uninteresting. Not to say that you couldn't have a structure. It would just seem to be somehow that there is this heightened state of being, that I would want to be able to react to that at all moments with a freshness. Obviously, set work is always improvised because you never do things the same. Just as an example: I would want to produce a series of just improvisational performances. That's the only thing that is kind of clear. To have different working periods for me as a performer to explore in a space with someone playing music, reciting poetry or someone creating a piece of visual art or a piece of visual art being there and I would react to that, etc. But somehow having different (I just called them performances where you have a beginning and an end ... I don't know) I'm sure there are other people who could say: Sure I would wanna do THIS. But for me I would go up with a couple of clear ideas. What am I busy with as an artist? Specifically on Earth. When I think about going into a weightless space environment; what does that do for me? What issues come up? What thoughts? I would be busy with all that. I would have, let's say, a file on that which I would bring with me so I'm not just going up there clueless but it would seem to me that everyone that goes up should all somehow be strong improvisers. Even if it's a visual artist. People you can really process information in the moment and that is a skill that you have to train. Of course everyone can improvise but I would say that the kind of people that should be sent up should really be people who can really process a lot of information and give expression to it. And that obviously is people like dancers actors musicians, to a certain extent. I guess you can say different visual artists. But then again a poet too. A poet can go up there and have pre-written material but also create stuff in the moment so... aahh!
SEABRA: If NASA told you: You have one aspect to explore, who have to write a proposal what aspect would that be?
LAKEIN: If it was one aspect... What it wouldn't be would just be how can I explore movement as a dancer. It wouldn't be that . That's too general somehow. I think I would focus (it's an obvious answer but just to come up with something here on the fly) I would say ensemble improvisation work. And I would write my proposal in that sense like: How could different artists from different disciplines working in an ensemble improvisational approach, to what extent can the space environment and weightlessness inspire, allow, facilitate people coming together and communicating. And that would be the research. Does that change us human beings and as artists that we're just able to connect I mean you could say that basically on Earth the connection is that everyone is controlled by gravity. Everyone feels the effect of gravity. Maybe that's too simple. But right now, on this sunny day, that's all I can think of ... wow... I have to think about that one.
Can you answer that? One thing?
SEABRA: No I can't.
LAKEIN: Just checking
SEABRA: I guess when I went into this project I was very much into movement and dance but at one point I started to realize that zero-gravity is just one small aspect about being up there. It's not about floating... it's about what it represents to the soul.
SEABRA: Yeah, it's very difficult. Could you list more aspects that could be explored up there?
LAKEIN: Receptivity. Unknown. Perception. Limits. Limitlessness. Interior/exterior landscapes. Awareness. Conscienceness.
SEABRA: Want to be part of a focus group for this?
RÉPLE: Meu nome é Maui Réple. Sou artista plástico. Pinto, faço esculturas, dirijo performances, fiz cenografia. Basicamente trablaho com artes plásticas. Já fui ceramista também. Vivo em Amsterdam.
SEABRA: Qual foi a sua reação quando te falei do Módulo ISADORA?
RÉPLE: Pra mim é o meu sonho. Adoro o espaço, a visão do universo, a possibilidade de se deslocar do planeta Terra, abrir horizontes. Esse sempre foi um sonho meu. Antes de ser artista eu queria ser astronauta mas como eu vi que não eu dava pra parte da matemática eu resolvi ser artista. Você arquiva esse desejo. Quando você falou, foi assim; uau!
SEABRA: Esta mudança aconteceu quando em você? Aconteceu bem cedinho quando você era menino ainda?
RÉPLE: Não. Eu fiz cursinho pro ITA.
SEABRA: É mesmo?
RÉPLE: Eu queria entrar no ITA . Mas achei que era muito militar pra mim e aí eu entrei em faculdade de matemática e ciências sociais. Daí eu vi que também não era tão exato nas exatas e aí eu resolvi fazer dança. Fiz um ano de dança clássica. Resolvi entrar em arquitetura. Daí eu vi que era artes. Resolvi abrir o leque pras artes. Comecei a fazer cerâmica Fiz cerâmica por 5 anos. Depois da cerâmica, pintura e escultura no Reitveld.
SEABRA: Que aspectos você gostaria de explorar?
RÉPLE: Um deles que eu acho fantástico é a ausência da gravidade. Isso ia facilitar muita na construção de esculturas monumentais. Acho que essa é uma coisa que seria bem forte. Outra coisa seria a exploração de novos materiais. Encontrar novos pigmentos, novos materias também para escultura, pra pintura. Acho que isso seria interessante.
SEABRA: O que você levaria?
RÉPLE: Pincéis, moinho de bola. Você sabe o que é moinho de bola?
RÉPLE: É um tambor cheio de bolas que moem pigmentos.
SEABRA: eria interessante observar como isso agiria em zero-gravidade.
RÉPLE: É verdade. Talvez lá não funcionaria. Teria que arranjar outra coisa. Martelos, mecânicos para quebrar pedras. Mais nesse sentido; coisas para esculpir mesmo.
SEABRA: O que você esperaria de um módulo em termos de equipmento?
RÉPLE: A possibilidade de assesso à materiais. Eu não sei se nesse módulo seria possível. Por que o acesso à materias seria mais quando você direciona à planetas, não quando você fica simplesmente em orbita. O que eu levaria seria muito marmore, já que não tem gravidade ou pêso.
SEABRA: Você pensa mais em ir para outro planeta ou para a Lua?
RÉPLE: Ou então nessa latona tenha a condição de sair pegar o material, voltar, trabalhar o material lá. Basicamente o material seria mais martelos mecânicos e soldas. Coisas para metal.
SEABRA: O que você esperaria do módulo em termos psicológicos ou emocionais?
RÉPLE: Transparente. O máximo de transparência possível. Que a lata fosse de vidro.
SEABRA: O que fascinaria você sobre a ISS? Você sabe alguma coisa do ISS?
SEABRA: Quem você candidataria para ir criar arte no espaço?
RÉPLE: Louise Bourgeois. (((porque ela tem um trabalho com...???)))
SEABRA: Lá em cima você terá dois possíveis públicos; numa transmissão ao vivo para bilhoes de pessoas ou uma platéia de 7 apenas seis astronautas que estariam trabalhando na estação? Público, plateia te interessa nessa sua ida para o espaco?
RÉPLE: O que se passa mais na minha cabeça é se eu fosse pra lá eu gostaria de desenvolver um trabalho de esculturas monementais no espaço para que elas possam ser lançandas no espaço ou deixadas na Lua. Não a necessidade de voltar pra terra mas sim de continuar lá.
SEABRA: A idéia de espaço teatral/sala: ... tendo a colocar teatros num espectro. Da Caixa preta de um lado ao teatro mais decorado, um Municipal por exemplo, do outro lado do espectro. Mas como você é artista plástico famos falar de ateliês ou estúdios. O que você prefere. Um lugar de trabalho meio caixa preta, limpo, funcional ou algo fabulosamente desenhado?
RÉPLE: O design pra mim não seria importante. Consigo ver a diferença. No teatro é onde você vai apresentar o trabalho e pra mim o espaço seria pra trabalhar. O que eu apresentaria seria num outro planeta ou jogado no espaço ou outras orbitas. A necessidade fundamental para mim seria a transparência, a possibilidade de sentir-se no espaço; ter a amplidão mesmo sendo limitado. Quando você falou de maleabilidade, acho que é interessante pra você aumentar comforme o trabalho que voce esta fazendo. Se é mais alto ou mais longo. Isso seria interessante mas não que seja necessário.
Acho fantástico ter alguém batalhando isso. Tornando pra mim em realidade um sonho. Eu não tive culhão de pegar e batalhar a coisa. Achei: Não. É sonho demais. Mas eu acho bárbaro. Fantástico.
((( Here I offered the interviewees a "sensation interlude", a sensory run-through, in which I told artists what the physical effects of being in Earth's orbit would be. I described the following sensations one feels when in space; sensations that are well documented in space medical literature: click here to read sensations)))
SEABRA: O que você visiona criar?
RÉPLE: Trabalhar alguma escultura como base na coisa do levitação. Que é uma coisa que é impossível aqui. Como no meu trabalho quando eu me pendurei no Vondel Park e em Paraty. A minha vontande era que não existisse o fio, que eu estivesse levitando.
SEABRA: Você se pendurou?
RÉPLE: É. As outras pessoas que seguraram a corda mas eu é que estava lá. A vontade era que eu estivesse lá como um objeto parado e não pendurado. Mas aqui não é possível. Tanto nos meus primeiros anos na Rietveld, a maioria dos meus trabalhos era de tentar criar uma ilusão de não gravidade. Se você tem a condição de não ter a gravidade, aí é fantástico porque aí você não precisa criar a ilusão. Já está lá daí você pode criar em cima da não gravidade e não criar uma ilusão da não gravidade.
SEABRA: Se você recebesse um convite da NASA ou outra agência espacial para escrever uma proposta para ir pro espaço e explorar um aspecto, qual seria?
RÉPLE: Exatamente isso. A não gravidade. Criar uma escultura livre do pêso. Por isso que também a minha idéia não era de voltar com a obra à terra mas sim de colocar na Lua ou num outro planeta. A "não necessidade" de voltar porque, se voltando, daí perderia a não gravidade.
SEABRA: Quais seriam outros aspectos em poucas palavras?
RÉPLE: Qualidade de pedras para esculpir como mármore. Coletar meteóros, e outros materiais.
Graduating Student of Industrial Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven/ Artist / Eindhoven
SEABRA: Do you want to go into space?
ELSINGA: Yes. I'm already in space.
SEABRA: What was your reaction?
ELSINGA: I heard about you first then about you're ideas. My teacher said, "Hey there's a student in the Master Class who's doing a similar project (Note: Roel-Jan's graduating project in Industrial Design is a choreography in computer animation of astronauts dancing in space suits floating above the Earth). My first reaction was, "What the hell! I want to kick his butt! This is my project!", so I was curious that someone was doing a project similar to mine, thinking about dancing in space, my reaction is different from that of other people. They're not sharing the same project. I don't know how to put it. For me it was like, "Hey, he's doing something that I'm also doing." When I spoke to you and when I met you, then it felt good. I thought, "Well this project is not so weird after all. Somebody is doing it in the same school.
SEABRA: It makes you wonder how many people are working with this kind idea around the world.
ELSINGA: Think of the coincidence.
And more specific, about how I reacted to the project, I thought it was very smart thinking to place it in the station that is now being built so it's very real projecting your ideas in the real future. Instead of making fantasy like what I am doing. That's what I liked about it.
SEABRA: Just a quick note. Yours is not so fantasy-oriented when I think about it. I've interviewed very few people so far and the impression I get is that a lot of artists are going to want to go outside the module and basically do what you show in your project: Go out and dance outside. Let's see how the interviews go but I have a feeling that that might be a tendency. Especially the dancers. They want to get outside the module.
ELSINGA: The person that mentioned your project to me, Allan Murray, I had a discussion with him and he asked me after I had spoken to you what I thought about your project and I said, "Well, his approach is very professional. Smart approach but I think that I would want to be more naked in space than being locked up in a module." A module for me is a little bit of a prison. Of course, you're out there in space. But you cannot move freely in space because your captured, contained inside this can.
That was a few months ago but when I NOW think of it when you float in the module you could be wearing nothing. You could be wearing your underpants, for example. Whereas in my project you would be wearing a heavy suit with a lot of noise having a lot of restraints on your movement. So now I am kind of doubting the kind of nakedness that exists in my project.
SEABRA: Because the suit is so cumbersome?
ELSINGA: It's like a spaceship all over again.
SEABRA: What aspect about being up there would you explore?
ELSINGA: What aspect of space? The infinity of it. It's infinite, at least in the directions away from the Earth. You can look so far, so far back into time, so far into space. You could go as far as you would want to so it's infinite. Nothing is stopping you when you start twisting your body in space or turning. Nothing is going to stop you unless you fire a rocket or hit something. It's total freedom because there are no borders. That's the quality I would want to explore.
SEABRA: What would you take with you?
ELSINGA: A piano! I would take my piano. Definitely. I don't know how. I don't think they are going to be happy in Houston with this but I think if you go up there you should take something good.
SEABRA: Do you have a piano?
ELSINGA: My parents have a piano.
SEABRA: Is it a baby-grand?
ELSINGA: No, but it's big. It's not the one with the wing on it. I'm not even such a good pianist but I can play. I think it would bring a little bit of soul, something like that. Otherwise I don't need to bring anything. Some recording devices or photo devices but they already take that.
SEABRA: What would you expect ISADORA to contain already?
ELSINGA: Something soft, because when I look at the pictures and the videos of the MIR spacelab, it looks so cold unnatural and plastic, it doesn't feel warm, there is no couch. I would need some kind of a couch or a floor with clothe on it. Or ceiling (there's no floor ceiling but) textile softness.
And when you start dancing you would definitely bump your head a thousand times. So it wouldn't be a bad idea to have soft walls.
SEABRA: So that is what you would expect ISADORA to contain in terms of hardware. What would you expect from this module psychologically or emotionally?
ELSINGA: A room to breathe. In the first place instead of the other rooms there which are to work and to make all kinds of measurements or adjustments to the hardware or something else. This would be a room to breath, to feel free emotionally. You have to feel a little bit more free in this module than in different modules.
SEABRA: What would fascinate you about ISS?
ELSINGA: A lot of things would fascinate me. I think that I would not want to come back. When you read the books about the astronauts, they always say how happy they were to go home but I don't have this feeling. I think I would want to stay there. I wouldn't want to come home. Let me stay one more day. One more hour. Because it is so special and you are not going there again. I have the idea that in the International Space Station you would meet all sorts of international people, like Russians. I never spoke to a Russian, for example.
SEABRA: If you had to nominate a high-profile artist to go up and create who would that be?
ELSINGA: I have to think about this. Well, for the ISADORA Module I would send a dancer but I can't name any high-profile dancers. Otherwise I would send a musician, I think that the place itself, being in orbit, being in space, is so inspiring, so poetic, I would send a musician to do something with this.
SEABRA: Anybody you have in mind?
SEABRA: You'd have an audience of 6 people on board the ISS. What would the possibilities of having such an audience there be for you?
ELSINGA: I wouldn't view them as an audience. I would view the people back on Earth as an audience. And if I would have to view the people on board as an audience I would tell them about my work, my philosophies. Not that I have these grand philosophies, but my view on the world. I would share my insights that I learned in my short life. I wouldn't perform for them. Just talk to them and share the weirdness of the situation and talk about that.
SEABRA: As you said, you would have an audience of a billion down on Earth. What would those possibilities be?
ELSINGA: I would make fun of the space project. The astronauts are so serious, "I'm doing this for my country, for my nation". I would just fool around and make jokes. Just to show that these people up there are not machines or droids. I would make fun of my colleagues and do stupid things.
SEABRA: About the venue? Venues are often designed to be malleable or else real architectural statements. Which would you prefer?
ELSINGA: The hull should be malleable and neutral, quiet, open. And a few very exciting accents. Very weird strange artifacts, paintings, art things. In compositions I always like when (it doesn't matter if it's a graphic composition or a music composition) when there is one flower in a desert. I would like the module to be a desert with a few very weird strange flowers. These flowers can be the inspiring points; where you can dream away and associate things. And the main module should be open for your own (vanity?). atmosphere. 170
SEABRA: What color would you want?
ELSINGA: Well I think cream. A light yellow, warm, white. I don't know how to express color in English. Cream. Space is so black and the Earth so blue. Brown would also be nice... grayish brown.
SEABRA: What would you create up there?
ELSINGA: I would create plans for the next module, or the next station. I would create a lot of fantasies about how it would be to have a base on the Moon, a base on Mars. How it would be to have a station orbiting Jupiter or setting foot on a Moon of Jupiter. I would make the first step in a new environment with a lot of fantasies about the step after that. Perhaps I would write a lot and draw some things. Create new ideas.
SEABRA: Let's say NASA were to invite you to go. You have to write a proposal about what you want to explore up there. But you have to choose one aspect. What would that be?
ELSINGA: I would want to explore movement. Perhaps by throwing things or building sculptures of ropes and stuff like that. Ropes with weights attached... constantly moving. I would really explore balance. How things move. Like you see astronauts playing with their food. They toss up a bubble of orange juice and suck it up in strange ways through their nose or something (laughs). Experiment with movement. Not so much with my own body but also what I can do with my hands. How I can position the things. I saw a movie once about astronauts going to the Moon and when they came into space and when they got out of their seats they sit in when they launched, they took off their very heavy suits to protect them from the environment. When they were just in there in relaxed working clothes and they had to do all sorts of things to prepare for the long trip, the person on the radio, from Earth was telling them you have to do these things now. And the astronauts totally ignored the voice because they were so interested in throwing the radio from one to another. Or their flashlight because the way it moved was so funny or so weird Because I saw this I would also do that. Spin everything that I could touch. Spin it around and see how it spins. When you hit it, if it stops or changes direction. So dance. Not just my body, how my muscles and bones move but how objects and structures move.
SEABRA: What other aspects would you explore about space?
ELSINGA: Doing nothing. Relaxing. Having fun. Just sitting, drinking. I have this feeling that these people go there to do an incredible amount of measurements, very important scientific things. Nobody goes up there just to have some fun. There is always a program they have to do. Be bored in space would be the second thing. Go up for 15 days and do nothing. Houston would say, "Are you already up to something?". "No, no. Not yet. Wait a bit". Hang around. Sounds a bit ducky but I would want to explore sex in space too. Not with one billion viewers. Not that I'm such a sexual artist but just to see how it goes.
SEABRA: It has always intrigued me about those Russians spending a year or more on the MIR.
ELSINGA: I think it already happened.
SEABRA: I'm sure they did it first. The Russians did everything first when it comes to space.
ELSINGA: There is one thing I hate about space though is that there is always a military or marine like aspect to it.
SEABRA: So could you summarize the other aspects briefly?
ELSINGA: If I would have to make a remark that doesn't answer that question. I would like it if the ISADORA Module would have a totally different shape than all the other modules. They are always these round cans because this is what the Space Shuttle can handle. But it would be nice pyramid-shaped or egg-shaped, different. The main form, the hull is already a statement. As if to say, "Hey, there's a different way to be in space."
(((Donald has a party tonight and is cooking while being interviewed))).
FLEMING: I'm Donald Fleming. I live in Holland. I have U.S. citizenship and I'm a choreographer.
SEABRA: Do you want go into space?
FLEMING: I'd prefer to go into space than go underneath the ocean although I find both ideas pretty claustrophobic.
SEABRA: What was your reaction to the ISADORA Module?
FLEMING: My first reaction was sort of about curiosity about gravity and how that will change. And whether or not my experience of space or humans being in space is some notion of having a different sense of gravity, like people floating around. So that was interesting. But to make a dance where you didn't have to relate to the floor as the starting point and also not have to do some kind of circus trick like having a belt or bunging chord or trapeze but really space as being a whole. As opposed to (relativated) by up and down bottom top.
SEABRA: What aspects about being in Earth's orbit would you like to explore most?
FLEMING: I guess the most interesting thing about Earth's orbit is that it is one of other orbits and I think that being in space would make that even more clear. Somehow leaving the Earth would make it a lot more clear. There's a TV show called Third Rock from the Sun, something like that. I don't like the show but I like the title. I like the aspect of realizing or being made more aware of my own minuteness my own sense of nothingness.
I'm very anti-humancentric. Though I like the idea of human beings trying as hard as possible to figure all kinds of phenomenon out, somehow it seems the more we figure out the more we feel we are in control of it rather than just feeling like, we're figuring something more out... the goal is to figure it out...
SEABRA: What would you like to take along with you to help you in enabling your artwork?
FLEMING: Books which are pretty heavy I suppose if they weren't available to get in a different way. Avocados because their really good for you. They have a lot of nutritional value, very versatile. I would actually like the fact that I wouldn't have to have to bring a lot of clothes. I wouldn't have to worry about making a fashion statement. Because everyone would be limited in what they would have to wear.
I would have to bring myself I suppose which is the most important thing and have people to work with. Because my material tends to be about ideas and bodies and moving bodies. Then you need those things so I don't need other kinds of materials because my material happens to be people. So I guess interesting people would be an essential ingredient. I suppose I would probably not make dances in space though. I would probably get into writing more. That's just me and where I'm at right now. I'm not so gung-ho choreographer so if you're asking me as a choreographer person then I can't be that gung-ho about it. I would probably do something else.
SEABRA: Are you writing now?
FLEMING: No. I think I would.
SEABRA: What would you expect a module for the arts to contain?
FLEMING: I would only think of it as a residency at this point. I mean, unless people could buy tickets to the show I would only take it as a kind of research-for-myself kind of time. What I would really like is an audience. A captive audience. So that there would be a possibility to shuttle people in. But that probably won't happen in my life time.
The most interesting thing is; art is communication so I would probably spend more time figuring out what I was trying to say rather than saying it. I don't think I would find myself getting into, working with video or electronic media and transmitting it. I much prefer live body to body, voice to voice, being in the same room at the same time art. So more than likely I would try to engage the people, the live bodies that were on the module to do something and make work for each other and communicate with each other about things that maybe shouldn't be talked about. Or give a forum that they could talk about them because it was under some auspices of doing a workshop or a project or something.
I'm very curious about reflecting upon the culture that exists. What kind of culture exists there? Who would be on this module? Would it be 20 people? Would it be 10 people? Would they be speaking Russian? Would there be 20 Americans and 20 Russians?
SEABRA: We'll get to that. So I asked you what it would contain.
FLEMING: What would I expect it to contain? Obviously basic things; a place to sleep. Place to shit. A window to look out of. I would really like a window to look out of or a number of windows to look out of. What I would like is plants. I would like to have plants. Another kind of living nature other than humans. Like some other kind of animal or plant or other live being other than human beings; house plants; a room that you could go into to see green and watch things grow.
Another thing that I personally like is quote-unquote "wasted space" like a room, a space that doesn't have a specific intention. A place to pace. So preferably some room with a window. It's just the window room. There's not a function designed to it. Like a place where you are not supposed to have a function. You're not supposed to eat there or sleep there or work there. Just a place where you can do whatever you want somehow.
SEABRA: Where being is a function.
FLEMING: Yeah. I like... it's really idle time but I love looking out windows. I really do. I can stand looking out a window for 10 minutes seeing what's happening
((((conversation about the possibility/feasibility of ISADORA)))
SEABRA: What would fascinate you about being on the ISS?
FLEMING: Of course seeing Earth from outside. It would almost be like the couple of times I've had out of body experiences while performing. There have been times when I have been performing but I have also been watching myself perform. So the fascinating thing would be this kind of heightened sense of being outside of the daily activities or the daily aspects of human life; sort of like everyone's life is a movie with different soundtracks, different backgrounds.
Or you are kind of divorced from it in some way. That, of course, would be the kind of culture of the space station. Who would these people be? Would they be Japanese or Serbian? Would they be gay or straight? Would they be ugly or attractive? Could you talk to them? Are they good cooks? Do they read a lot or are they boring?
It's like going on a camping trip. A camping trip which you just can't get off. It's like going on a ride, you can't get off. When I'm on the roller coaster and I say, "Oh, but I wanna get off now!" No. The roller coaster is supposed to go for two and a half minutes whether I'm throwing up or not. So the confrontation of this; you're in or you're not in and dealing with this (I don't want to say being forced) but this prescribed amount of time and place is always super-intriguing... like a workshop.
Like I'm gonna do this thing for 3 weeks, 6 months or how ever long it is with this group of people. I'm pretty much the kind of guy who tries to make anything work. It would be interesting to see how I would deal with that by not having my other outside sources like my place of reflection or other people outside of the culture of the project to relate to. So it would have be sort of doing my processing with the people I am participating with because you cant' get off at 68th Street instead of 86th Street. You can't get off. Unless you can. Can I get off?
SEABRA: Probably not. There's an escape module but I don't think they'll let you go so easy.
FLEMING: Can I call up and say, "I would like to be on the 4:15 flight?"
SEABRA: You'll probably be up their for 60 days.
FLEMING: I'd probably get into the psyche of that culture also as a source for my inspiration and curiosity.
SEABRA: If you were to nominate a big-wig artist to go into space who would that be? (Dancer Viviane Rodrigues, who is listening in, leaps around waving her hands)
FLEMING: Rem Koolhaas. I would like to see him go there because he's this guy who is really pushing the Corbusier notion of architecture. Which is very much about separating functions and really not (as far as my perception) dealing with street life, or serendipity or "toevalijkheid"; like just things happening by chance.
He has a very strong structure about where people work, where people travel, where people eat... It would seem that this place would have a lot of rules and regulations and be designed very much in that way. So, in a way, I would like to see him shoved into space (laughs). Like OK, here it is. Here's a very ordered society with every space and every location having its function and meaning. I think it might be a good thing to see how he manages this stuff that happens inbetween all the intention. Don't tell him I said that though. (laughs) I've never met the guy. I would like to very much though.
SEABRA: You would have audience of 6. What comes to mind?
FLEMING: I would do something around eroticism, they are probably going to be very horny. I would probably work on their definitions around their sexuality and seeing if they thought they were gay or straight and what that would mean for 60 days without getting laid by their normal lover or something. I would probably push those kind of buttons... and keep my door unlocked. (laughs)
As an audience, I would be pretty exhibitionist. Hmmm... No, I'd probably try to make fights. I'd try to create intense discussions.
So what was the question?
SEABRA: That's OK you've answered it.
(Viviane): You were at the part about the door.
FLEMING: Oh keeping my door unlocked. (laughs) Well come on! I'm trying to be honest here!
SEABRA: You will also potentially have an audience of a billion people or so. What possibilities do you see there?
FLEMING: Wooo! Hmmm... I'd probably go back to the whole idea of humancentricity. Then I would like to do something more with plants and animals. I'd try to make more a performance involving plants and, well, probably domesticated animals. I'm not saying lions jumping through hoops or something. I don't know what I would do specifically but I would take inspiration from TV nature shows; watch more TV nature shows and then do something about what it means to be human and what it means to be non-human. But what it means to be a living creature. That's what I would do. An investigation kind of thing. But I don't know what the show would look like. Like kudzu. You know what kudzu is?
FLEMING: It's this (I think it comes from the Orinoco Valley) but it's a vine, a weed, that grows half a meter every day. So it's invading Florida right now. It's invading the Everglades so maybe I would hire some kudzu to grow. I'd do a performance and have the kudzu there and see how long it is at the beginning and see how long it is at the end of the performance. Just kind of brainstorming.
SEABRA: That's what I want.
SEABRA: Now about the venue itself. Would you want something malleable or fabulously designed?
FLEMING: I would be much more into the architecture of the space. I wouldn't decorate it. I'm much more into the space as it is. The color comes from the living beings in side of it and not the "ongeving", not the environment.
I would like a big huge rectangle of 30 by 20 by 30 meters to do what ever I want with it. Not something designed. Probably I'd like a flat floor. It's not really clear where vertical, horizontal or even the public is so I'm thinking pretty much a massive space with some right angles in it to give reference points. I think right angles would be probably more of a reference point than like a gold medallion, something that indicated right, left, up, down.
SEABRA: What color back drop?
FLEMING: I would be into glass. See through glass everywhere. (((What would be boring: unclear in recording)))
SEABRA: Glass would probably be highly unlikely now because of the radiation levels. You'll have radiation coming in big time.
FLEMING: OK. Doesn't have to be glass. Something I can see through.
If not, I could live with silver-gray. A little bit like glossy battleship, aluminum.
When mentioning subjective vertical:
Comment from Donald: "Well that's what I was talking about. I would like some visual references." I need my right angles
(((conversation about space taboos)))
SEABRA: If a space agency were to invite you to go and you had to write a proposal a proposal about exploring one aspect about space, what would that aspect be?
FLEMING: I already told you!
SEABRA: I know but give it to me again.
FLEMING: I'd leave my door unlocked. Especially if there're Russians! Boris and all those guys! (497).
OK... What would be my proposal?
I guess I would really think about focusing on how wonderful human beings think they are because they got to space or like that they conquered it that human beings conquered another frontier or something and I would look at the value of: Was that another wonderful thing that human beings did? And is it so wonderful?
Does that answer your question?
SEABRA: Absolutely. Can you list other aspects about being in space? Brainstorm in a few words what they are?
FLEMING: I'm a pretty misanthropic kind of guy and I'm very much into the idea of: I'm a special wonderful person because I am. But then on the other hand I'm also this combination of chemicals protons and neutrons and all these kind of things and I happen to have this kind of form, human, and its kind of mysterious and magical. I could also be the knob of a hot water heater. That's just another way that molecules can come together and exist. But I happen to come together into this. I think space would make me think of molecular structures and how things exist. And I'm in this bubble and if I walk outside this bubble I would die because my chemical structure doesn't jive with the chemical structure outside.
(((summarized from pilot study as: I'd explore the human as combination of chemicals vs. magical being/chemical structure/vulnerability)))
NESLO: I'm from Surinam. Artistic leader of De Nieuwe Amsterdam. DNA is a place where we experiment with new forms of teaching theatre. The method is we go from plural wisdom... (((Explains process))).
SEABRA: Would you go into space?
NESLO: Yes, if I were invited, yes. I must say that this thought never occurred to me really. It's the first time I think about it. It's not a bad idea. But the thing is, I don't have the feeling that I've never been in space. I can't even drive a car but I fly without a helicopter most of the time and your fantasy can bring you everywhere, out of fantasizing, making my theatre everywhere in my mind. I don't feel like I have never been in space.
Maybe it's because I come from a place where it's very normal that people talk about people that we don't see. So there is always this notion that there is a world that is there but we don't see it. They call it in French; le monde de leau de la (the world beyond). Even at parties people are putting food and drink out for the guests we don't see. It's a very respected thing even if you don't really grasp it or understand it. I never understood it really as a kid. So you don't understand it completely because I haven't seen anything yet. But it's always been like that. I remember the last time when I was home, some person held a party at a graveyard. So... you know... dancing with the dead. Somehow you don't feel like there's a border between the those who are not here anymore, those who have never been here and those who are here.
SEABRA: You're space is broader?
NESLO: Yeah, from childhood on. Le monde de leau de la (the world that is behind that). It is a border line. Whatever world that it is that we don't see. They (people back home) are determined that: Not everything is what you think it is.
SEABRA: What was your reaction to the ISADORA Module?
NESLO: I wouldn't say no. I told you. I've never thought about it but if I would have been invited I would like to go.
SEABRA: As I told you this is a project about a module on the International Space Station and it would be in orbit around the Earth at 450 kilometers altitude. I don't know if you can grasp that.
NESLO: Oh I can grasp that...
SEABRA: I just ask that because (it terms of views) the other day I saw images of astronauts looking out the window of a Shuttle and it actually looked very much like flying in an airplane; Just the Earth going by like this (moving hands slowly) almost in the same pace as from an airplane. And you see these lakes go by, rivers, land masses. But they're not lakes. They're seas... and you recognize the shapes of countries from the map. I thought that was very curious. So what aspects about Earth's orbit would you like to explore?
NESLO: Gosh! In a way I'm a little bit disappointed when you say 450 kms. If I go I would immediately go to the Moon, why not? Because I have been fascinated by the Moon from when I was a kid. And it actually happened that I really talked to the Moon. I was fascinated by the first man on the Moon. I followed it as a kid. I think the idea up there would be; to be closer too the Moon. I think the Moon would be my main thing.
SEABRA: Being in moon's orbit would be more interesting to you?
NESLO: Yeah, but what would the moon be like from Earth's orbit? Maybe it's not going to be that different
SEABRA: Actually my project grew out of a desire to put a theatre on the moon.
NESLO: Yeah? Well, if you succeed I'll go with you immediately! (laughs)
SEABRA: What would you take with you?
NESLO: A mask. This has also to do with this world: le monde de leau de la. Especially an African mask. People here often put it as an art object on the wall but the mask is not just a mask. A mask is a world in itself. And most of the time it represents the world of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So if people say to you as an artist, "Oh my god, you've become a mask!", it's a very great compliment. So I think if I would bring something with me it would be a mask. I would be bringing with me the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Especially this special mask that you can't buy. It can only be given to you. It comes from Central Africa, the woods there. It's a mask that is painted in white, red and black. You hardly ever see mask like that. It almost looks like a Japanese mask. It's one of the deepest masks. That's why you can't get it. You have to get it from somebody else. The white is for the purity, the red is for life, and black is for (((???))) today and tomorrow.
SEABRA: What's the name of the mask?
NESLO: It's called Ngwevilo. I got mine from a priestess. And I've been told the story of it but if I would really want to know everything, I would have to go to the place to get initiated. So I only know part of the story.
So whenever I move, normally I leave everything behind. I never take things with me if I move from one house to another. I buy new things or I live without the things I had but I always take the mask wherever I go.
SEABRA: What would you expect ISADORA to already contain for artists, for you?
NESLO: For me I would like to have things to write. I like to put my impressions on paper. Or if I get terribly upset I have to write it down. Often if I write something down I get rid of it. It's not anymore. Either I'm emptied to contain new things or I get rid of all the sorrow. I think that if you sit up there alone, you might get lonely. I like people and I don't know exactly what you would see but somehow I would feel like I'd need some color up there. I would like to have painting utensils.
And I'd like to cook up there. I don't know if that's not possible yet but I hope it would be for me. It would be a very important form of expressiveness. I like cooking. That's why I would need some other people around because I don't necessarily have to eat it myself. I like to cook for people.
There is this project with DasArts now and they built a whole kitchen there for this project. My hands were scratching after the project to go and cook there. (laughs)
SEABRA: What would you expect it to offer you psychologically or emotionally?
NESLO: Well, one of the most precious things (sounds a bit contradictory because I say I like a lot of people) but I know the value of silence. So that would be the main thing.
SEABRA: What would fascinate you about being on the ISS? (There are going to be always 7 astronauts on board. It's about 100 meters long).
NESLO: The contact I would have with people on Earth. The communication from that part of our universe and to communicate what I go through constantly like on internet. When I say that, I don't even know if that's possible. But that would be great.
I remember I followed a project for the Space Shuttle. They had this teacher on board and the whole thing exploded. I felt so bad afterwards because I was really looking forward to how would that be; the class that she would give from space. I was very interested in that and they never did it anymore. And I would like to do that still. I would like to give a theatre class in space.
SEABRA: That would be so cool.
NESLO: Yeah. I always thought it was a pity. I think that for the sake of those who died they should do it again.
SEABRA: That's a very good point.
NESLO: Then it's not for nothing and now I feel like it's they're gone and that's it.
SEABRA: Yeah, it's very odd. If you had to nominate an artist to go?
NESLO: Oh my god. There are a lot. That's very difficult to have to choose. I don't like these kind of choices. I think I would send this person called Herman Terling. He's not very well known but I think the really great people you don't know about. There are a lot of people who profit from what they have left. I've never known him. He's was already dead for 50 years when I was in school, but I heard about him, I read his books. And in a way it was amazing how he, in my field, the theatre, how he dreamt of an international theatre already before the war.
He had none of this global contact that we have today. He already wrote it down. He said that's the thing we have to do and we have to do it quick. Everything that is happening today is in his books. It's so amazing because he never traveled. He comes from a very little village, he went to Brussels and he wrote his things down. He started this little school that later became a school. It started off as two sheds. Where he was it was quite a hopeless situation. Nobody liked him, nobody liked what he said.
For instance, in that time he said things like: we can learn a lot from the Chinese. How that must have sounded in Europe that time! He said things that are actually happening now. And the strange thing is that I made notes of them before I actually understood what he said. Now I'm living them and only now I understand his books that I had to read. When you're in school you have to read some books and you read them and that's it. And you go on with the real stuff or what you think is real stuff.
SEABRA: When did he write these books?
NESLO: Between 1925 and 1930. It was a very difficult time in Europe. And he wasn't liked for what he did. I still think we need that. In Belgium, where he wrote the things, they had an official school of theatre which was this little opera with rather dubious dances. It was nothing. He just wrote those things down which were dreams but to him he was very sure of what he was writing; the way, the tone in which he writes. He wrote about things that I just don't understand how he knew. There was no television and he never traveled. I think that's amazing. I think those are big spirits.
Einstein too. But there were two sides to him; creative and destructive. But I can't find destruction in Herman Terlings works. It's so humane. And I like people who can look further than their time without having the opportunity travel. It means to me that you really understand.
SEABRA: It's interesting that you mention those years in which he wrote. I just learned about this very recently, about two weeks ago: The first scientist to conceive of a space station was actually not a Russian in the 50's or something like that. It was actually in the 1920's in Slovenia.
NESLO: You see?
SEABRA: Some people were already thinking about space but the idea of a space station in orbit is very...
NESLO: ...particular. Before I went to theatre school I went to university and I studied language and history and my main interest were the Pre-Columbian Indians. Especially the ones in South and Central American. Actually the Mayas had a complete system of watching the stars but the horrible thing is that up till today we can't decipher their writing. There is this painting that always fascinated me and they put it beside the first capsule the astronauts went up in and it's exactly like a capsule... a man sitting in the same position... up until today everybody is asking, "Did they make something like that?". Nobody knows. And that is one of the most important things that, well, dreamer as I am, I keep that in mind. There is a lot about the Mayas of course, that we don't know.
SEABRA: I've seen it.
NESLO: Have you seen it?
SEABRA: It looks like he's in a little rocket
NESLO: Yes! It's amazing.
SEABRA: As I remember it looks like he's wearing a helmet and he's strapped to seat.
NESLO: Yes! I saw it beside the picture of somebody in a capsule. It's amazing. If they succeeded to design one they should do this (go to ISADORA) to. American Indians always have to wait a little longer.
SEABRA: You will have an audience of 6 astronauts on the station. What comes to mind?
NESLO: Oh yeah, because I'm a theatre person you always like an audience. But I talked about the silence already. I think that's necessary. So on certain times I wouldn't like them around. Do you know this (it's a completely different subject) you know this program Big Brother?
SEABRA: Yeah, I don't watch it.
NESLO: It's so stupid. But I can imagine that if you leave them for some time that actually they would kill each other after a while. And I must say I don't know how I would behave. Sometimes I really do need silence. And if I don't get it I get very difficult. I would really make a nice scheme. But I would certainly use them. Because I like to hear about what other people think about what you make. I would like that. But my first thought would be to have the whole Earth as audience.
SEABRA: That was going to be my next question.
What about an audience of a billion, a mega broadcast?
NESLO: I prefer that (laughs) it's terrible. No, but I think it would be nice to do a show like that. I think I would choose for something like that teacher... something educational. It's a little bit the teacher in me. I can't help it. If I would go there I would like to do something that lasted longer than just a nice evening.
SEABRA: About venues. Would you want something malleable and functional or highly designed and fabulous?
NESLO: Since I'm a person of the body, I don't like things that dominate the body. I think the nicest building, the nicest cathedral is the body. So I prefer a black box but of the proportions of that thing you are talking about (the Catalan theatre). Actually we work in such a space now. I work with a designer now and she made it so nice. You should come and see it. It's a huge space in the middle of Amsterdam.
I prefer this big black thing, almost no decor. No objects. Oh that would be great!
SEABRA: So in terms of color you prefer black?
NESLO: Because then you add light to it. I think you have more freedom to do what ever you want to do. Whatever comes up. But coming up to the station itself I might ask myself, "My god what am I doing here? This thing in itself is already this big work of art!" And the big black thing would be a terrible challenge because how do you fill it? It's very frightening. And I like being a little frightened.
that's interesting. (the pushing of the wall)
SEABRA: If NASA were to invite you and you needed to write a proposal about one aspect to be explored, what would that aspect be?
NESLO: I said it already. For me its the Moon and (laughing) I'm reigned by Jupiter so I should maybe do something with Jupiter.. well it doesn't say much to me.
The way you described all those sensations is just bringing me back to my childhood. I liked the fair at Coney Island and going into those rides that bring you up and down and turn you around and you get out completely dizzy. From when I was a kid I liked to soar. So I think I'm going to like this.
SEABRA: What would you like to create?
NESLO: I think I'd talk about time. Time is such an entity. But you can't grasp it really. I want to but when I was in Africa some old man told me: "You come from Europe, I can see it." "Why," I said. "You live with a clock. You shouldn't live with a clock. You should live with time. You're always alive. You'll always be there. The clock, it drops and breaks and that's it."
That is the main thing that I kept from that time. I am always talking about... past, future, now... What is all that? Why do we need that? I think I'd be thinking about that. Philosophizing...
SCHETTINI: Sou estudante da SNDO, trabalho com teatro físico, sou dançarina, mas o meu interesse não é só a pura coreografia.
SEABRA: Você gostaria de ir pro espaço?
SCHETTINI: Agora! Nesse momento. Só de pensar na oportunidade de vivenciar o universo dessa forma pra mim é a experiência de vida mais... (pausa longa) não tenho palavras, exaltante, exuberante, compensadora... me parece absolutamente fantástico.
SEABRA: Você se lembra de sua reação quando te falei do ISADORA?
SCHETTINI: Uau! Genial, fantástico. E ao mesmo tempo: É possivel? Tem certeza que isso pode acontecer? Eu sempre imaginei uma coisa de ir pra Lua que seria muito limitado tanto no sentido de na quantitade de movimentos que você pode fazer. Você tem uma roupa que te limita, e a idéia de se fazer uma câmara fechada, uma sala fechada em que você pudesse experimentar com a gravidade me parece excepcional, genial.
SEABRA: A sua reação, se não me engano, foi: Me leva!
SCHETTINI: Me leva! Se você conseguir essa parada aí, me leva agora! Como posso me meter nesta história. Concerteza.
SEABRA: Que aspecto de estar em orbita você gostaria de explorar?
SCHETTINI: Acho que a coisa do movimento.Estar em orbita já é um movimento inerente. É um pouco difícil começar a falar sobre isso porque eu imagino o que é estar em orbita mas eu não tenho a informação precisa.
SEABRA: Então pense no espaço, o que você gostaria de explorar?
SCHETTINI: Eu acho uma série de coisas me influenciaria no momento que eu estivesse aí. Mas concerteza a relação fora e dentro, a relação do que aonde estou inserida, ou seja, o espaço em si, só que eu estou protegida dentro de uma nave. Seria justamente o olhar pra fora e o olhar pra dentro. Trabalhar essa relação. A relação espacial de estar num lugar limitado mas ao mesmo tempo num espaço infinito.
SEABRA: O que você levaria?
SCHETTINI: Quando eu penso em ir ao espaço penso em levar nada. Eu penso em ser uma experiência como se eu estivesse "re-setting"; é uma coisa que começa a partir do momento que estou indo alí. Além das coisas básicas o que eu precisaria para sobreviver neste ambiente... não, eu penso em levar nada.
Imagino que ja estaria inlcuído, tecnologicamente falando, um aparelho de registro. Ou seja, câmaras fotográficas etc... Tenho muita curiosidade mas qual seria a possibilidade de registrar o som?... Que som seria o som, ruído, barulho que o espaço produz? Isso seria uma influência muito forte.
SEABRA: Que você esperaria encontrar dentro do ISADORA?
SCHETTINI: A princípio não sei porque eu visualizo mas visualizo uma coisa redond, um módulo redondo. E é como se eu visualizasse estar em movimento numa coisa que não tivesse cantos. Eu como se eu estivesse andando em (sabe aquela coisa que roda em que o hamster corre?). Que não seja quadrado com quatro cantos pra me auxiliar no processo criativo redonda
SEABRA: Você pode ser mais específico?
SCHETTINI: Filmadoras, música, muita música, aparelhos capazes de gravar a sonoridade do espaço. Que tivesse muita visão para o espaço. Muitas janelas. Infelizmente não é possível estar no no espaço aberto mas estar vivenciando esse lugar. Pra mim o que me fala mais é justamente a a relação fora, a relação do espaço. Eu acho que não precisaria levar nemhum objeto, nada que não fosse inerente aquilo. Estando ali descobriria coisas que fazem parte daquele mundo... desse ambiente... não penso em carregar nada do meu histórico Terra.
SEABRA: O que você esperaria do módulo em termos psicológicos?
SCHETTINI: Eu esperaria aconchêgo. Um ambiente acochegante onde você pudesse sentir, retomar ao seu espaço interno. Eu esperaria uma coisa calma com muita paz. Um espaço criatvo com muito pouca interferência de coisas funcionais do aparelho em si. Esperaria silêncio, ou seja, estar ouvindo barulho de máquinas funcionando. Justamente pra sentir este contato, com a sonoridade, a energia do espaço, com essa atemporaildade. Eu esperaria muita paz, muito tempo pra sentir, pra receber isso. Poder interagir com essa energia do espaço em si. E obviamente um espaço aconchegante. Um espaço onde você pudesse trocar idéias com outras pessoas. Muito importante é ter momentos de pesquisa individual. Estar sozinho no ambiente e também ser provocado por outros artistas. Desenvolver colaborações, trocar idéias. Acho que é uma coisa na qual vocé pode se fechar muito. Já é um ambiente muito propício a isso.
SEABRA: O que te fascinaria de estar no ISS?
SCHETTINI: Acho que um sentimento de claustrofobia seria inevitável. O que eu piraria mais seria na idéia de querer me lançar, sair daquela módulo e voar no espaço. Claro que isso é uma coisa do imaginário, da fantasia, mas se fosse possível queria sair voando no espaço, abrindo os braços. Acho que uma certa frustração nesse sentido aconteceria: ter que estar dentro desse módulo fechado e não puder sair (mesmo que seja possível com máscaras e a roupa apropriada).
Acho genial a tecnologia, a possibilidade de você criar uma coisa assim. Estar vivenciando uma evolução nesse nível mas eu me encantaria menos com a tecnologia, com a beleza do módulo e mais com a possibilidade de estar com esse contato. De estar olhando, de estar em contato de certa forma indireto com o espaço aberto.
SEABRA: Que artista famoso você nominaria para ir pro espaço?
SCHETTINI: Sem dúvida nemhuma o Luiz Mendonça. Ele é uma pessoa que entenderia estar lá de uma forma muito profunda e é uma pessoa de criatividade extrema e acho que é uma pessoa que, dada as devidas condições ele criaria coisas geniais.
SEABRA: Também acho.
SCHETTINI: O Luiz Mendonça já está no espaço. Ele não esta fisicamente mas ele sempre esteve no espaço ao meu ver.
SEABRA: Haveria a possibilidade de ter uma platéia de seis astronautas. Ou seja, 6 astronautas sempre trabalharão na estação espacial. O que isso te possibilitaria?
SCHETTINI: Sempre ter essa platéia eu acho prejudicial. Agora ter a possibilidade de ter essa platéia, eu acho, em termos artísticos e creativos, eu não sei como isso funcionaria. Depende das pessoas que estão alí; do olhar das pessoas. Mas eu acho genial poder trocar informação científica e ter informações do que realmente acontece. O tipo de reações químicas que acontecem no espaço. De ver coisas acontecendo e saber o que provocou aquilo. Ter a visão científica do espaço. Isso acho que influenciaria muito porque você junta a informação precisa a criatividade. Isso eu acho genial. Poder trocar idéias, receber informação dessas pessoas. Mas eu acho necessário ter também, mesmo que seja pequena, uma platéia de pessoas envolvidas com arte; pessoas que tenham esta sensibilidade artística.
SEABRA: E uma platéia de bilhões numa transmissão via satélite? Quais seriam as possibilidades?
SCHETTINI: Todas. É transmitir pro mundo o que é o nosso universo. Quais são as possibilidades físicas disso? De seu corpo? Que tipo de experiência que você, como ser humano, pode vivenciar do espaço. Dessa coisa infinita.
SEABRA: Isso influenciaria a sua obra?
SCHETTINI: Sim, porque eu acho que é uma responsabilidade muito grande. Concerteza. É uma oportunidade única e é uma responsabilidade de passar essa informação pra outras pessoas. É necessário. Isso não pode deixar de ser transmitido ao mundo. Sem dúvida alguma. Eu acho que inclusive a idéia de saber que você estar alí, isolado no espaço, sozinho passando por um processo criativo e sem nemhum contato com a Terra e derepente saber que bilhões de pessoas na Terra que tem visões completamente diferentes da Terra e do espaço estariam presenciando isso... É como um mutirão mundial... é uma carga de energia que me atingiria diretamente apesar da distância, apesar de ser uma transmissão via satélite, de não haver o contato pessoal. É como estar em conexão com toda a populção humana. Isso é de uma carga energética fenomenal. Sem dúvida alguma isso influenciaria não só a minha criação como a minha performance. O meu estado físico psicológico no momento. Acho que é quase um catarse. Um êxtase (eu ia falar racional) mas não é a palavra. Um êxtase consciente. Não é um êxtase largado. Seria um pique.
SEABRA: O espaço teatral, a sala. Em termos de módulo, o que você gostaria de ter? Algo super-funcional e maleável ou algo mais desenhado?
SCHETTINI: em dúvida nemhuma um espaço funcional em que você pudesse estar sem frente estabelecida. Acho um disperdício você estabelecer um tipo de espaço performático em que esteja pre-determinado que aqui é a frente e aqui é o angulo que o meu público vai poder me ver. E aí e tenho que estabelecer toda a minha expressão de arcordo com aquele angulo. Isso eu acho que seria uma pena. Acho que deveria ser um lugar em que você estaria no espaço... que não existe cantos. De não estabelecer um coisa fechada nesse sentido. Pra mim seria um ambiente aberto (aberto no sentido de possibilidades) sem nada pre-determinado e que você pudesse mudar e trabalhar o que você quissesse. Estabelecer uma frente ou não de preferência ter um público que possa ver através de seus olhos o seu próprio point of view. O point of view sendo o angulo e também o angulo que ele está te olhando; como ele vê essa expressão.
SEABRA: O público estaria solto no espaço?
SCHETTINI: Sem dúvida alguma. Eu acho uma pena determinar; o público tem que sentar aqui, eu tenho que performar aqui. Acho uma coisa que é muito preso aos nossos velhos conceitos teatrais da Terra.
SEABRA: E em termos de cor?
SCHETTINI: Eu vejo uma cor muito neutra. Eu acho que a possibilidade de utilizar luzes seria genial. Eu não vejo um branco. Não sei quais seriam as consequências em termos de iluminação e tudo mas... eu tembém não vejo negro. Eu vejo um material que refletisse de alguma forma; um material que tivesse uma propria relação com a luz. Não é um material neutro mas um material que interfere na tua visualização da luz... quando penso intuitivamente. Tem que haver uma pesquisa por que você pode acabar se limitando muito com o material que você for usar. Mas eu vejo um material que interfirisse na qualidade da luz. De forma que saisse daí uma coisa misteriosa, uma coisa própria de que você não tem tanto controle.
SEABRA: O que você criaria?
SCHETTINI: Bom, eu posso te dar uma uma sensação que eu tenho no momento. Mas o que eu criaria lá em cima só Deus sabe. Só eu ficaria sabendo depois de criar porque por mais que eu imagine o que é estar lá em cima, nunca vai chegar perto do que realmente será. A princípio, a imagem que eu tenho seria baseada nessa relação espacial... espacial eu digo de espaço físico e, concerteza, a sensação de ser um ser humano. O que é ser um ser humano dentro de uma coisa infinita? O que é ser um ser humano com o seus limites, com o nosso tipo de necessidades físicas e mentais. E enteneder o espaço se confrontando com a atemporalidade do espaço, a sua adimensionalidade (se pode falar essa palavra) do espaço. (((fica silenciosa, longa pausa))) Eu acho que é muito profundo.
SEABRA: Digamos que a NASA ou outra agência espacial diz você vai subir e que você tem que escrever uma proposta sobre um aspecto que você vai explorar. Que aspecto seria?
SCHETTINI: Eu não poderia explorar outra coisa, não poderia falar de outra coisa que não fosse o fato de ser um ser humano. De ter esse corpo limitado, dentro de, ou em relação a esse outro, a essa coisa... eu diria até esse outro tipo de vida. Como nós humanos entendemos a vida... mas esse outro tipo de existência... Eu acho que a relação seria isso: O que é ser um ser humano, não só a visão de um ser humano mas essa relação entre a nossa condição humana que é extraído do seu contexto completamente e inserido num outro contexto que seria completamente deshumano.
Concerteza seria essa toda a minha experiência de estar lá, de presenciar essa existência bilhões de vezes mais (essa coisa comparativa não existe mas) essa existência absoluta, essa grandiosidade, a atemporalidade com uma coisa que ainda não sabemos. O que é? Eu acho que a sensação deve ser muito forte. De você se ver como ser humano. O que sou eu? O que é o meu aparato? O que me faz ver isso da maneira como vejo? Porque, sem dúvida, o que eu posso falar sobre o espaço, é expor uma visão subjetiva de ser humano. Eu nunca vou poder dizer o que realmente é isso.
SEABRA: Que outros aspectos secunádarios você exploraria?
SCHETTINI: Secundárias mas ao mesmo tempo principais... o que me influenciaria muito, o que eu exploraria seria a questão da luz. A questão do som. Isso seria secundário mas extremamente parte do que eu estaria fazendo. A relação da luz e do som. Tirando a coisa mais óbvia que é a relação espacial. Luz e som.
-------- pensamentos pós-entrevista:
SCHETTINI: Eu no momento de certa forma me transportei. Essa entrevista me transportou de maneira inocente porque é um transporte subjetivo. Eu me sinto agora realmente... é difícil comentar. Essa conversa me transportou pra uma coisa muito maior, que ao meu ver, é muito mais silenciosa... com muito menos palavras e mais sensações. É muito grandioso. Eu sinto uma coisa no meu interior que me leva... como se uma energia dentro de mim que é completamente independente do meu físico, da minha possibilidade fisica-biologica me quisesse fazer parte disso no mesmo momento ...quisesse abrir, me expandir, eu sinto isso,... é isso que me faz dizer pra você: me leva! Por que eu sei que eu posso passar muito mal .. e muitas consequências vão ter pra minha vida... mas essa sensação de fazer parte de uma coisa muito maior que essa coisinha que sou eu. Que é uma coisa da energia do universo, a energia que move tudo isso. Eu tenho tesão num impulso de reagir a esse tipo de coisa... acho que se amanhã você me convidasse a fazer de me perder uma ano num oceano num barco, claro com condições de sobrevivência, eu ia falar claro! Experienciar a vida do oceano. Essa coisa que é muito maior que você que é viva e que você não pode ...
Ipanema 28th of NOV 1999
RIBEIRO: I'm a social anthropologist and I'm interested in history and colonial and post colonial experiences in the former Dutch colonial world and also in Brazil.
SEABRA: Would you like to go into space?
RIBEIRO: I'm not sure I would like to go myself but I think some colleagues of mine might want to go because it's a very very unique kind of experience to have humans interacting in space. It's a very novel kind of community, and I believe there might be quite a few people interested in it and not only anthropologists but also sociologists, psychologists, and other people.
SEABRA: Could you describe your reaction when I told you about ISADORA?
RIBEIRO: When you first told me about it I thought it was a great idea and very exciting idea actually, because usually space travel or space projects, have to do with the so-called hard sciences and the arts and human sciences are never ever included. So I think its high time that there should be room in a space project for the arts and the human sciences because that's a very important part of the human experience too. It's not only hard science that has something to say about space and living in space.
SEABRA: What aspects of being in Earth's orbit would you explore?
RIBEIRO: I would certainly be very interested in the day to day interactions between the people who are up there; what they think, their expectations. I would actually like to interview them before they would ever get up there. It would be important to get to know them well and to live with them and spend lots of time with them to get to learn about how they imagine life up there and then it would be very nice to send someone up there with them to be with them on a day to day basis, just paying a lot of attention to what they are doing, saying, and how they interact etc...
SEABRA: You would want some pre-work done.
RIBEIRO: Yes, there is a new phenomenon these days; traditionally people would go somewhere else because they had to, say, for political or economic reasons, and, of course, there were a few exceptions. But nowadays people besides economic and political reasons have very private reasons to move away from their homelands. They want to re-imagine themselves in completely different and new environments. They want to re-imagine their own lives. So I think that people who are willing to go into space must be people who are willing to re-work their own identities and their lives. They must have certain kinds of ambitions and dreams about themselves and their communities and it would be very interesting to find out what they are.
SEABRA: What would you take with you?
RIBEIRO: A tape recorder, a note pad. I guess I would be provided a PC.
SEABRA: What would you expect ISADORA to already contain in terms of hardware?
RIBEIRO: I would expect ISADORA would have facilities to allow people to get in touch with who ever they wanted to get in touch with on Earth very easily and very fast and efficiently. Yes, that's one thing that I think should be very important for the Space Station.
SEABRA: What would you expect from the ISADORA Module psychologically or even emotionally?
RIBEIRO: That's a tough question. I would expect it not to be cluttered with scientific equipment. I kind of imagine a space that is somewhat empty, but also cozy. "Gezellig" as they say in Dutch. And a kind of space where there would be opportunities or room or furniture even to allow people to interact in a fairly intimate way.
SEABRA: What would fascinate you about being on board the ISS?
RIBEIRO: I think just the fact of being in space, being away from Earth being, as it were, dislocated not only in physical way, but my fantasy is that that would create a kind of inner psychological dislocation as well that would have reflections in my dreams, in what I dream when I'm asleep or in fantasies or things like that. So I would be very curious about what would be happening to me and the people around me.
SEABRA: Could you nominate a high-profile academic to go into space? Who would that be and why?
RIBEIRO: I don't think I would necessarily nominate a high profile academic to go into space. I think that wouldn't necessarily be the best person available. I do think the selection criteria should be different. You should get perhaps people who are sensitive field workers rather than maverick academics. That's my opinion, that might be somewhat different in the case of artists. But in my field I don't have any names to give you.
SEABRA: I always ask artists: There will always be 7 astronauts up there. Technically speaking you would have potential audience of 6. What possibilities do you see in that? For you you would have 7 people to work with. What possibilities would there be?
RIBEIRO: There are people who do performative studies in anthropology but I don't fancy myself staging a performance or anything like that so I don't think that's a question for me.
SEABRA: You're the observer up there? How would you interact?
RIBEIRO: I would basically be there while they are working and doing their things, talking to each other. I would be one member of their group. I don't expect that there would be a separate time or space for myself. Or maybe I would like to make some more individual interviews. That would be nice. There should be some room for that or some time set aside for that.
SEABRA: This is another question geared very much towards the performing arts but I'll ask it anyway. ISADORA will have broadcast capability. What would the possibilities of performing for an audience of a billion be? Is the fact that your work can be broadcast have any influence on how you would work or what you might do or what you might want to say?
RIBEIRO: Yes. I wouldn't be able to say in which way but say if there would be live broadcasts of the conversations or the interactions in the Space Station on a daily basis, yeah, that would make a difference. I think maybe I would like an alternation between times when I would be exposed to billions of people and times when I could just be with my fellow travelers without any outside interference.
SEABRA: As of now the ISADORA Module is very much a performing arts module. And I speak of it as a venue. Venues can be very different from one another; a theatre can be highly malleable like a black box theatre or they can be very ornate and they are a statement in and of themselves. They are so gorgeous like a concert hall I saw in Barcelona. (((describe))). For an anthropologist I guess what I am asking is what would you want in terms of a work space?
RIBEIRO: Maybe something functional and malleable would be better. A thought just came into my mind; a museum or museum exhibits. I don't know. Maybe it's a weird idea to take objects into space. I have a feeling that whatever space is available there should be objects there. They may be objects of art or so-called ethnographic objects. Maybe it would be a nice idea; not a place completely devoid of any references, you know? There should be something there. That's my feeling. Maybe changing exhibits would be nice.
SEABRA: I ask this of the artists so I'll ask this of the anthropologists: What color should the back drop of ISADORA be?
RIBEIRO: I would like to see several kinds of possible backgrounds, Changing backgrounds. Maybe patterned and not only one color, you know. And maybe this module could also double as say a private club or something like that (laughs). It would be a nice idea to be able to change the background. I think the people in the space station should have some private space into which they could move away from the scientific objects, instruments, etc. So this module could double as this private club, theatre, museum or whatever.
SEABRA: What might you create up there or what kind of study would you like to conduct up their?
RIBEIRO: As I said I'd like to find out how people interact; what they're thinking, how they feel up there, how the group works together. So what I would create is field notes and I would write an article or series of articles, perhaps a book about it.
RIBEIRO: After coming back to Earth.
SEABRA: Let's say NASA or another space agency invites you to go up and asks you to write a proposal about one aspect you'd want to explore about space. What would that be?
RIBEIRO: How being in space is both experienced and imagined by the people who are actually there. Whether going to space and being there has something to do with re-working their own identities. How they project themselves on to this idea or vision of being in space. That would be what I would be interested in; the dreams, the notions, the representations of space, of being in space or being away from Earth, of being in danger, in a way too. It's not dangerless as we know... and in a closed community, in a trans-national tiny community outside of Earth.
SEABRA: What would be 2nd or 3rd choices?
RIBEIRO: Maybe I'll like to know whether after they come back or while they are still in space, whether their perception of their lives on Earth changes or the perception of their communities. That's something I would like to know and I would also like to see how they interact with their communities back on Earth assuming that there can be a day to day interaction. I'd like to pry (laughs) on to their communications with their families and friends and the people they know on Earth.
SEABRA: I'll ask you two more questions and if there is anything you would like to add go ahead...
SEABRA: You talked about producing notes and wanting to publish articles...
RIBEIRO: I'd also like to take pictures.
SEABRA: In terms of getting your work out there, you are going to go up there to work in space and you want to publish...
RIBEIRO: Let me tell you something about anthropological field work. Basically while you are in the field, what you produce is basically records, your own field notes, a field diary. You can record interviews or you can take pictures but you don't actually produce the final work while you are in the field. That's not usual at least. You have to go back and then there is a period of reflection. You go into the field and then you go out of the field. It's like going into a very specific experience and then coming out of it and then reflecting on it. So you're not supposed to do...
SEABRA: You do your work upon return.
RIBEIRO: Yes, the work I would be doing up there would be field work. Not the actual writing up of the essays or book. That would be done on Earth.
SEABRA: But if you were to stay up there 90 days or even 6 months...
RIBEIRO: But the normal length of anthropological field work is at least is one year.
SEABRA: So you see yourself staying up their for a year? That's a long time.
RIBEIRO: Not me, certainly not. But nowadays people do field work in different ways like they go for a period of two or three months then they come back then they go again so there are serveral variants actually. It's just a standard that implies a one year field work. It doesn't mean that most people actually do it.
SEABRA: Now in your field is there a publication or a journal that would be most suitable for this to be published in.
RIBEIRO: I'd say any of the major journals particularly those in English published in the UK or the United States. Like "Current Anthropology", "The American Anthropologist" or the one that used to be called Man, now it has another name. But maybe it would also be more interesting not to publish it only in specialized periodicals but in periodicals that are more interdisciplinary that are not strictly anthropological. I also think it would be important to produce essays and work for the general public because this is a very unique and novel experience. You cannot just talk about it or write about it to your peers in academia. It would be ridiculous in my opinion You'd need a much wider public. You owe it to a much wider public actually.
SEABRA: About taking the arts and humanities into space to a hard science oriented piece of equipment like the ISS. What do you have to say about this uniting of the arts and sciences?
RIBEIRO: It wouldn't be the first time an anthropologist finds himself or herself in a kind of hard science environment. You have someone like Paul Rabino at the University of California at Berkeley who has been working with scientists in laboratories for quite sometime, like scientists who work with DNA and things like that. It would not be the first time. Of course, that would imply that you would have to acquire certain kinds of basic knowledge whether you are an artist or an anthropologist. I guess you would have to certain kinds of technical knowledge. But it also would be important to know a bit about more specialized aspects of your hard science colleagues work; the most specialized aspect of their work. It would be interesting if you could learn about it and that goes for anthropologists and human scientists in general and artists.
SEABRA: Is there anything you want to add about the possibilities around the ISADORA Module, about the possibilities of taking the humanities in space?
RIBEIRO: I think we will only learn more about the full possibilities once the experience has happened several times. Once people have been up there and then I think new perspectives will open. We will notice things that we cannot even imagine now. Because being in space, even as a small temporary community is such a unique, strange experience. I don't believe there is much we can say about it right now. I think we have to live through it first. Several people have to live through it first then we'll be able to really learn about all the possibilities inherent in such an experience.
SEABRA: One more time, would you want to go yourself.
RIBEIRO: Frankly, I don't know. I'm not very good with physical hardship... And what you just told me about being in space is slightly discouraging I thought.
SEABRA: Yes, it's hard on the body.
RIBEIRO: But I'm thinking about the psychological and emotional effects as well. Why would I want to do that to myself?
RIBEIRO: Most human scientists are not only scientists or researchers. They are also teachers . That's a normal thing. So I think you should include at least one question about teaching or how would that affect your teaching back on Earth. How would you include your experiences in your teaching? Or would you like to teach something in space?
SEABRA: You know there was an attempt at that, teaching in space. It might have been a publicity gimmick during the Reagan administration but it ended up with victims. When the Shuttle blew up there was a teacher on board.
RIBEIRO: Yes, that's true.
SEABRA: And the idea was she was going to teach a class to millions of children across America via satellite which, with Reagan or no Reagan, was a nice idea. I'm sure kids would have been inspired. What's your take on that?
RIBEIRO: I don't know... I would have to think about it. It may be just pretentious to send out a lecture from outerspace. What I actually thought was teaching that happens inside the space station for the sake of the people in the space station but maybe it could also be broadcast. I don't know. But that would have to be thought out and I think that in each specific discipline or perhaps each specific practitioner of a discipline, the teaching would be different, not only the contents but the meaning of it.
SEABRA: When I think of the ISADORA Module, I would like to see a poet, an anthropologist and artist go up together...
RIBEIRO: No, my idea is I would be interviewing everybody on board. I wouldn't concentrate on the scientists alone. It's everybody. It has just occurred to me that maybe it would be a wonderful place in which to speculate on humanity being human, on human diversity, etc. It might be interesting to have open ended lectures or just conversations among all the people in the space station.
SEABRA: Or maybe have it all broadcast down to Earth into classrooms?
RIBEIRO: Maybe. I think this space station is going to be a media event anyway. So everything that happens in there may eventually be broadcast. And perhaps it's the only way you may be able to get some of the money that you put in back. A program broadcast to say 2 billion people, that's really something, a lot of money.
RIBEIRO: I imagine outerspace as a very inhospitable place. And I think part of being human is feeling somehow at home in an environment. Whatever environment that is actually your home or not. It is important that people feel at home. And maybe the ISADORA Module should be the center-piece of feeling at home in space somehow. The other modules are going to be cluttered with scientific equipment. Frankly, I don't know what scientists think, but I don't find that very cozy. It must feel like living inside a laboratory.
SEABRA: I've already been in a mock up of one of the modules in Germany at DASA and it's very well designed or at least it's not like the MIR station. I don't know if you have seen images inside the MIR, it's just a cluttering of hoses, pipes and wires.
RIBEIRO: I know, it looks terrible.
SEABRA: This one not. It is very sleek and clean compared to that. But it is definitely very square and Formica looking and plasticky and white.
RIBEIRO: That 's what I mentioned, maybe it's important to take up objects of art or ethnographic objects or objects from the communities or from the homes of the people who are going up. That might also be important. Not only family portraits or that kind of thing or mementos. But things those people are used to. Maybe a certain kind of patterned clothe or a certain color or who knows.