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