[ISEA2011] Panel: Leonie Cooper – From Weight­less World to Hy­brid Homes: Rethinking the extra-terrestrial

Panel Statement

Panel: Testing New Ground: An Interdisciplinary Discussion on Hybrid Habitats

A space sta­tion is not just a weight­less world de­signed to ac­climi­tise as­tro­nauts to the con­di­tions of liv­ing in space – it is a habi­tat, both real and imag­ined. Draw­ing upon my re­search into the his­tor­i­cal con­di­tions that en­abled the imag­i­nary con­sti­tu­tion of the space sta­tion as a habi­tat, I will ex­am­ine how NASA now em­ploys aug­mented and mixed re­al­ity tech­nolo­gies to blur the bound­aries be­tween the vir­tual worlds ac­cessed via the com­puter screen and the world in­hab­ited by the as­tro­nauts. Since build­ing on the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion began, as­tro­nauts have played at house­keep­ing in space, their rit­u­als meant to be wit­nessed by those who ac­cess NASA’s web por­tal and its stream­ing media broad­casts. If these home-mak­ers have been agents des­ig­nated with en­act­ing the epis­te­mo­log­i­cal con­di­tions for emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies, then has their func­tion shifted with the in­tro­duc­tion of the first robot as­tro­naut, Robo­naut2, into the crew? And what of NASA’s use of Sec­ond Life, has this vir­tual world be­come the site at which the same spa­tial imag­i­nary that sent ‘men to the stars’ is merely reen­acted? Work­ing in the in­ter­stices be­tween space sta­tion and vir­tual world, I aim to ar­tic­u­late an am­biva­lence that haunts these hy­brid habi­tats, one that might open up al­ter­na­tive ways of imag­in­ing the re­la­tions be­tween self, screen and world.

  • Leonie Cooper is a Lec­turer in the Fac­ulty of Art & De­sign, Monash Uni­ver­sity (AU) where she men­tors grad­u­ate stu­dents un­der­tak­ing re­search in media arts prac­tice and the­ory. Her ap­proach to re­search and teach­ing draws upon ex­per­tise in the his­tory and the­ory of film, tele­vi­sion, dig­i­tal media and screen arts with an in­ter­est in their in­ter­me­dial re­la­tions. Her doc­toral the­sis in­ves­ti­gated the fig­ure of the as­tro­naut in the con­text of con­tem­po­rary screen media in­clud­ing film, theme parks at­trac­tions and vir­tual worlds. She has pub­lished on the as­tro­naut and crit­i­cal the­ory and been in­vited to speak on these areas. Cur­rent re­search ex­tends es­tab­lishe work on sci­ence fic­tion aes­thet­ics into con­tem­po­rary dig­i­tal net­works as pre­dic­tive media.

Full text (PDF) p. 528-533