Choreographer Rob Bunzl
in Interview for the ISADORA Module. During the interview his mobile
The interviews yielded around 4 hours of recorded tape and 8 of the interviews were transcribed into 40 pages (click here to read interviews)
My questions were all about getting artists to tell me what they would explore in space. Frankly, I was expecting to hear what they would want to create in space - visualizations of art projects. I had set out to design a multi-purpose studio from the interviews. But artists weren't just talking about what they would create in space. A significant portion of the subject matters brought up by the artists was dedicated to how they would want to live in space and a desire to collaborate with the astronauts on board the ISS:
The blue (ART-RELATED) areas represent comments that relate to an art module, its form, what it should contain, or what artist would do in space.
The yellow (LIVING-RELATED) areas represent comments relating to how artists view living in space or re-thinking how astronauts are currently living in space.
The red (COLLABORATION-RELATED) areas represent comments reflecting a desire to socially interact or collaborate with scientists and astronauts.
The gray (ANECDOTES & INTERVIEWER) areas represent anecdotes being told, small talk, my questioning time and my information or clarification periods within the interviews.
I first labeled ideas expressed in the interviews by separating them into 5 different categories based on what I was trying to get out of the questions:
All these "Aspects", "To Do's" "To Takes", To Contains" and "To Go's" were too general and were grouped up again in terms of what they had in common on a more detailed level. Ideas or quotes like "being made aware of own minuteness", "mental journey" and "to be human within the infinite" were all labelled as "EXISTENTIAL" for example, and placed on a page. To follow is the second grouping of more precise concepts:
As you can see above, when grouping up ideas according to the amount of times they were mentioned as opposed to how much time they talked about an idea, the desire for social interactions and exploring existential issues takes on considerably more weight (see top of chart).
But there were many nuances to this qualitative data, which had to be absorbed, and analyzed over time. For when I started to group them I noticed that things didnt necessarily mean what I thought they meant. Interviewee Cinara Schettini, for example, when asked what she would take with her answered she would take nothing up there with her in order to "start from zero". This is not just a comment on payload or what to take but a comment on preparing oneself for experiencing a paradigm shift. Therefore I found I needed to re-group concepts with more attention to nuance.
I had to ask myself how all these concepts impacted ISADORA. And I came up with 2 ways: as a studio (as expected) but also as a lounge because of the amount of references made to wanting to live in space rather than go up and just do art. But there was a leftover concept related to the idea of artists wanting to collaborate with scientists in space. Collaboration didn't necessarily have an impact on ISADORA as a Studio or Lounge. A collaboration can happen in a Studio or Lounge setting but it can also happen in another module of the ISS or between one person on the ground and another in orbit. Finally, when I regrouped concepts even further with this attention to nuance and subtlety, ideas pertaining to paradigm shift, windows, broadcastability and especially the desire for social interaction and collaboration started to take on an even greater significance. To follow is this next grouping of ideas as Studio-related, Lounge-related and Collaboration-related:
Windows were a good example of the need to regroup the ideas in
order to understand how they would impact the design of the ISADORA
Module. If I had just taken the 6 direct mentions of windows into
consideration they would have only occupied 1.8% of the 330 ideas
expressed in the interviews. But when I count the times artists
expressed the desire to experience "the amplitude of space",
"seeing earth from above", "looking back in time",
"observing the moon" then the level of interest in windows
increases. Windows are obviously necessary for these experiences:
In the case of Collaboration, the color-bar chart in the beginning of this chapter shows that on average the artists dedicated 5% of their interviews to this subject. However, if one looks at the amount of times Collaboration-related subjects were brought up or implied, the number rises to 21% of the ideas mentioned. It becomes an important subject matter to take into account considering the amount of Hardware-related ideas added up to only 30% of the comments made.
The interviews yielded some true gems of statements. Some of these "gem" statements (which were not shared by other interviewees) had an enlightening effect on the design of the ISADORA Module and the relationships that will have to be forged between the art community and the space establishment. Some of these concepts I allowed to carry more weight than others for their inspirational value. I call these watershed concepts or phrases; or concepts that were extremely enlightening or inspiring. For example when Alida said she expected there to be watercolor already up in ISADORA, or when Fernando calls ISADORA a center-piece for feeling at home in space. But I will talk about these in more detail in the next two chapters.
Many statements, however, demonstrated opposing and conflicting desires.
I tried to get artists to talk about what they might do in space in terms of art, but they kept telling me is how they would want to live in space. For example, when I asked what they would expect from ISADORA psychologically I got answers like: "a room to breathe" a room "to feel free" as opposed to work or when I asked what they would expect it to contain I got answers like "wasted space", "plants". Here is a brief sample of phrases:
"It should provide a sense of home"
"I would take my piano"
"I'd explore the human as a combination of chemicals vs. the magical being."
"Only 450 kilometers high? I'm quite disappointed."
"I'd take a chair, cigarettes, everyday objects."
"I would like a room to see green and watch things grow "
"I would act as a sponge."
"I'd take avocados because they are good for you."
"It would be great if the astronauts were willing to give expression to their experience."
" something soft floor with textiles surfaces soft walls "
"I like to cook for people. I'd cook up there "
Asking people who they would like to see go into space was not very useful but interesting nonetheless. My favorites were David Lakein who would send a butoh dancer, Roel-Jan who said Jamiroquai and The director of Fura Dels Baus, Jurgen Mueller who said a "una facha" or a fascist "to see if he would come back with a different world view".
A few candidates for space travel: Jamiroquai, a Butoh dancer, a fascist. 25
The Dilemma: The Dual Personality of ISADORA
The interviews revealed many dualities for an ISADORA Module: They showed, for example, that ISADORA must be empty and full at the same time, theatre and lounge, mysterious yet home-like, containing and up and down or being completely dimensionless. It became clear that ISADORA had quite conflicting characteristics, that it could be strictly an art module or Lounge or both. I chose both for I believe such a design is very relevant to the current needs of the space industry and will help broaden the scope of human spaceflight. A module offering both studio and lounge facilities will allow artists to explore art forms AND how we live in space. This, however, presented quite a design challenge considering the constraints that an industry standard space module presents. So major design dilemmas were revealed.
Since the idea of living in space came up so strong in the interviews I had to introduce concepts that also impacted ISADORA as a lounge. Habitability is such a big issue in space design that I realized that this was quite an opportunity to allow artists into the discussion around space habitability.
But it was this added tendency towards a lounge that introduced the main dilemma for an ISADORA design: should ISADORA be a two chambered module (one chamber a studio, the other a lounge) or a one chambered module that can double as both studio and lounge? Should it have a subjective vertical or no references to ups or downs at all?
ISADORA must have
two main purposes, Studio and Lounge.
As an artist and lover of dance, I came into the research of the ISADORA Module convinced that dance would be the art form to benefit most from being in microgravity; hence the name ISADORA. But when allowing for concepts to overlap, a regrouping shows that the desire for windows, collaboration and lounge aspects are much more prevelant than they originally seemed. In the following three chapters I will discuss the groupings of concepts that came up in the interviews. Two of these chapters (T minus 5 and T minus 4) discuss how the potential design for the ISADORA Module is influenced in two very distinct ways; as a Studio and as a Lounge. Finally, the chapter following,(T minus 3) , discusses something that came up quite often: collaboration - and how it will have more of an impact on the space program than the module itself.