From the valley of the River Lot, under one of Europe’s darkest skies, the Exoplanet Lot project proposed a metamorphosis in which the environment was imagined as a human-inhabited exoplanet. Anticipating variations in physical reality and unpredictable futures, artists invested this space with the development of new artistic and technological adaptation strategies.
Exoplanet lot asked these questions :
What if we could experiment with a different breathable air layer, a different starlight – a different day – feel another sense of ‘stability’, walk on an alien soil, advance into a nature formed by exotic life patterns? How would this extreme experience renew the development of science and technology and help us to take a critical distance to the planet, the perception of space and our relationship to the environment? How could we land in a specific place suitable for settlement, viewed with new eyes? From the knowledge we have today of exoplanets and imagination they can convey, Exoplanet Lot invited artists and audiences to a new geographical and cultural mobility. Exoplanet Lot extended reflections on the near future and the invention of new ways to live and work in rural areas with visual arts, poetry, cosmology and space research. Co-curated by Rob with Director of the Maison Des Arts Georges Pompidou Martine Michard, it commissioned the following artists:
Tania Candiani dreamed of performing balloon exploration flights of this exoplanet.
HeHe built ecological vehicles adapted to its changing terrain.
Thomas Lasbouygues experimented with capturing processes of pictures he transmitted from laboratories located in different parts of the planet.
Caroline Le Méhauté detached a piece of night sky that is anchored to the soil in daylight. Ludwig creates atmospheric spaces and performances when all sensations are tested by the light and sound of this new environment,
While Tracey Warr devised singular reading areas for Meanda, the name of the fictional planet she writes about in an eponymous text.
When The Future Was About Fracking
When the Future Was about Fracking was a sequel, curated by Rob and specially designed for Scotland, of the Paris-based artist group HeHe‘s Fracking Futures, which first took place in north-west England, also a contested site for hydraulic fracking.
The Guardian wrote at the time: ‘It is one of the biggest, most polarising issues there is, but artists who have created an indoor fracking installation insist they are not trying to sway opinion either way. “We want to create an emotionally engaging experience. People can then go away and come to their own conclusions,” said Heiko Hansen, who with his partner, Helen Evans, has recreated the sounds, tremors and flames you would get from a fracking operation.’
This time, the group re-enacted a doomed landscape after extensive fracking, with leaking hissing ghostly wellheads, in the swirling mist of a post-apocalyptic abandoned excavation site, in the middle of a city centre, in Centrespace within DJCAD’s Visual Research Centre located on the lower levels of the DCA. HeHe‘s often mischievous yet accurate miniaturisations of potential and actual global disasters have intrigued audiences worldwide, and this was the first time their work was seen in Scotland. More info here
Aerosolar/Space Without rockets/Aerocene
This was an exhibition, conference and an extremely difficult and spectacular performance by internationally renowned artist Tomas Saraceno, taking place at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico and the Rubin Center, El Paso Texas (Director Kerry Doyle) in November 2015. Here are pictures of the successful launch, the first human solar-powered flight in a registered balloon in the world. Tomas is now training artists to become balloon pilots in Braunschweig, Germany. The project was presented at ArtCop21 at the Grand Palais in Paris in December 2015. All photos courtesy Studio Saraceno and taken by Christ Chavez.
Nicola Triscott’s account of the event here
Ewen Chardonnet’s description of the overall campaign here
Saraceno Studio aerocene page here
Future of Transportation
This was an extensive project, initiated in November 2015 by Rob as visiting professor, which is ongoing at Srishti Institute of Art, Media and Technology, Bangalore, which involved 38 students, faculty members, undergraduate and postgraduate and artists from Bangalore and elsewhere. It started with an expedition of all the students on a branch line train from the outskirts of Bangalore to the birthplace of Tipoo Sultan and culminated in a mass takeover of the streets in Yelahanka around the college. Photos below by Rob and the Streets Are For All team.
Blog on Future of Transportation: here
Facebook group here
Wild Waters – Lecture on Performativity in River Sports and Wild Swimming, given by Rob in Contexts – International Festival of Ephemeral Art, Sokolowsko, Poland, July 2015.
Silent wild swim in the River Thames
In 2012 Rob organised an event called the Culture of Rowing and Swimming with fellow curator Tracey Warr which challenged Olympic ideals of sport and fitness and introduced the River Thames as a cultural space. This introduced the concept of the artist-rower and trained artists to row light racing boats as well as organising a mass silent wild swim in the Thames at Oxford. The project continued with Lithuanian artists Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas who present the River Runs project in rivers around the world, with floating semi-submerged symposia and other artistic strategies.
The lecture ended up in the water for the Q and A session:
Becoming Aerosolar- Space Without Rockets. November 2015
Site Visit to plan event and conference at White Sands Desert New Mexico with Tomas Saraceno. Photo: Kerry Doyle
Rob and Tomas at the place where you can just walk over the US/Mexican border
Announcement of event as part of the Rubin Center, El Paso’s season Territory of the Imagination, contact email@example.com for further details:
Tomás Saraceno: Becoming Aerosolar
November 5th, 2015-February 27th, 2016
Project Space and White Sands Sculpture Launch
In a time of rapidly accelerating climate change, why do we still blast rockets into space, burning up vast amounts of hydrocarbons? Is it because it is the only way to get there? Renowned international contemporary artist Tomas Saraceno says no, we can float into space with balloons, from space stations hovering in the upper atmosphere. The concept is not dissimilar to Saraceno’s exhibition ‘Cloud Cities’, a version of which was recently shown on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Argentine-born, Berlin-based Saraceno is coming to the border to demonstrate with ‘Becoming Aerosolar’, a floating sculpture in the dramatic landscape of White Sands desert how we could float into space. He is also starting his international campaign for sustainable space travel in ‘Space Without Rockets’, a conference at UTEP headed up by engineer John Powell, whose company is pioneering the idea of ‘floating into space’ with balloons. He will be joined by other experts in space and culture, in a unique conference and event that will attract worldwide attention. ‘Becoming Aerosolar – Space Without Rockets’ is the must-attend centerpiece of Territory of the Imagination.