[ISEA2023] Artist Talk: Adriana Knouf — Amateur Lithopanspermia: Decolonial outer space perspectives, slow space travel, and lichen-human hybrids

Artist Statement

Theme: Interspecies Subtheme: Symbiotic Imaginaries

Keywords: space art, lichens, solar sail, decolonial perspectives, transgender, xenology

Amateur Lithopanspermia is an experiment in lichen-human hybrids for the purpose of space travel. Rather than focusing on making space travel amenable to the human form, I pro-pose that we merge aspects of ourselves with an organism, lichen, that can deal with the ravages of space. The collection of human materials that will sustain the lichen will occur from those who are often excluded from space activities, such as women, people of color, the differently abled, and LGBTQ+ people. The consensual collection of materials, as well as the offering of these materials to the lichen, inverts the usual relationship between humans and other living entities. These lichen-human hybrids will be encased in fallen meteorites, thus launching from earth what has already come here from the cosmos. The rocks and hybrids will travel to Mars, or elsewhere in the solar system, using solar sails as their means of propulsion, obviating the need for chemical propellant in space. Workshops here on earth will weave new tales about non-anthropocentric space travel. These stories become technologies themselves, as they allow us to make manifest new desires for our more-than-human lives in outer space, pushing against colonialist and extractivist narratives.

  • Adriana Knouf, PhD (NL/US) works as an artist, writer, and xenologist, focusing on topics such as wet media, space art, and queer and trans futurities. Adriana regularly presents her artistic research around the world and beyond. Her work has been recognized by an Award of Distinction at Prix Ars Electronica (2021), an Honorary Mention from the Science Fiction Research Association’s Innovative Research Award, and as a prize winner in The Lake’s Works for Radio #4 (2020).