Impossible Object:new art installation only possible in space makes debut on International Space Station

Art and space collaborate once more as a private mission to the International Space Station delivers a unique art exhibit out of this world

A unique piece of artwork has been revealed that involved spheres being formed out of water when poured down its brass framework. The catch? That the sculpture of sorts can only be seen in action outside the planet’s orbit in zero gravity conditions, as revealed on the International Space Station recently.

The piece, titled Impossible Object, is a sculpture made of liquid water and cannot exist on Earth due to gravity. Built from brass rods and tubes, it looks like stairs which do not have an up or a down. Water flows through it but without any gravity to direct it downwards, it sticks to the ladder’s metallic structure and makes bubbles of varying sizes while on earth the water would simply dribble out.

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The piece left the Earth’s atmosphere in a first ever private mission on board the ISS as part of the Rakia art mission to bring art into space and was created through a joint effort by Dr Yasmine Meroz, a physicist at Tel Aviv University, and artist Liat Segal. The co-creators claim that because space tourism is on the cusp of becoming viable, their art makes us reflect on “the place of culture and art in our lives, on Earth and beyond.”

Taken aboard the space station by astronaut Eytan Stibbe as part of the art mission, the creators of Impossible Object were surprised themselves with the practical results of the sculpture. They thought the water may wrap itself around the structure and speculated that the water’s shape would be wavy just like the structure.

However, the water formed a few large spheres which gently attached themselves to the sculpture, while the shape and the way they moved were affected by the structure beneath.

Explaining the piece, Segal said that “the brass sculpture looks like a wavy staircase that has no directionality. It doesn’t have any up and down because that is the way it is in space. This work made us think about the shape of water. What does a piece of water look like? How do you hold a piece of wave in your hand?”

“We knew we were going to have only one shot to activate this work in space,” Segal continued, “we constructed a sculpture that is folded and packed and on the station astronaut Eytan Stibbe had to unfold it, rebuild it and activate it.”

After the debut of the sculpture, Meroz was taken aback how well the part installation, part experiment went. “Part of what was so spectacular about it was that it wasn’t what we expected, and it was beautiful’’ she admitted. “The sculpture has this kind of jewellery quality to it, it is very polished and clean and on a white pedestal as if you just took it out of an art gallery.

“This is in very strong contrast to the very technical background of the ISS which has a lot of wires and buttons and what not”