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A group of people - some in uniform - gather by the side of a large aircraft, chattingMIR Campaign 2003, Star City, Russia

The MIR partnership invited proposals from European and Europe-based artists and scientists to undertake projects/research in variable gravity conditions on a parabolic flights or using other facilities, such as the centrifuge and the hydrolaboratory facility used for EVA training, at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC), Star City, Russia. From the call, we received nearly 100 proposals from artists and scientists all over Europe and selected the following projects, which were undertaken during a working visit to Star City in April 2003:

Marcelli Antunez Roca (Spain) - micro-performances, taking place during the parabolic flight. The formal development of the actions use the body, an exoskeleton, a system of computers, and robots. Roca develops and works with orthopaedic mechanisms that are used for controlling the body and expanding the body's possibilities.

Vadim Fishkin (Russia/Slovenia) - variable gravity project using the kapelgraf device, which can translate data originating from various sources into the drops of fluid language. In normal gravity, the kapelgraf translates a time-based substance (sound-voice) into a more substantial, but still ephemeral substance (drops of water). In zero gravity, the drops remain floating in space.

Kodwo Eshun, Richard Cousins & Anjali Sagar (UK) - The essay film Otolith will draw on the traditions of Russian utopianism, European reverse anthropology and Indian modernism.

Ewen Chardronnet (France) - Media artist and founder member of the Association of Autonomous astronauts. Author of 'Quitte Le Gravite'.

Yuri Leiderman (Russia) - Kefir grains, colonies of special bacteria, can be regarded a good embodiment for Tsyolkovsky's "radiant shells of mind". Leiderman grew kefir grains, "trained" them, selected most "healthy" samples and named them. Selected grains set off for the aircraft to experience variable gravity.

Rebecca Forth (UK) - scientific research project into the respiratory and cardiovascular effects of clarinet playing in zero G. Rebecca is head of aviation medicine at the Centre for Space and Aviation Medicine at UCL.

Stefan Gec (UK) - a work physically recording the G-load exerted by the centrifuge onto a celestial globe. The globe to be positioned in the void normally occupied by the cosmonaut. Once installed into the centrifuge, the hollow globe will beslowly exposed to a significant G-load, causing it to be deformed by thepowerful force exerted upon it.

i-DAT (UK) - The Institute of Digital of Art & Technology design a prototype for a self-orientating robot called Columbia: Monument to Lost Astronauts

Presentations

Work resulting from these projects is being presented to the public at the following and other venues:

MIR @ V2: V2, Rotterdam, Netherlands 27th July 2003

Extremophiles conference: Royal Institution, London, UK 19 September 2003

Art in Zero G symposium: Paris 4 - 5 October 2003

MIR - Art in Variable Gravity: Cornerhouse, Manchester 8 November - 14 December 2003

MIR - Dreams of Space: Stills, Edinburgh 19 March - 5 June 2005

A special edition of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac documented these projects - September 2003.

Funders and thanks

Funded by a European Commission Culture 2000 award.

MIR (Microgravity Interdisciplinary Research) is a consortium of European based arts organisations, Arts Catalyst, V2, Projekt Atol and Leonardo-Olats, which was founded in 2001 to promote interdisciplinary and art/science research in microgravity and altered gravity conditions. Two campaigns, with a total of three parabolic flights and a centrifuge experiment were organised within the MIR framework in Zvezdny Gorodok (Star City), Russia

With thanks to the Zero G team at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre