Spatial Performance Environment Command Transmission Realities for Astronauts (SPECTRA)

Sarah Jane Pell1

1Artist-Astronaut, Adjunct Assoc. Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Office of the Engineering Dean, and Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Monash University


Sarah Jane Pell has performed with gesture-controlled robots underwater, dragged prototype 360° cameras up Mt. Everest, launched artworks into space, and bounced images on the Moon’s surface via radio waves. The real work is in recognizing the signals as a dialogue with the extreme environment.

In her 2018 eResearch Australasia Keynote, Pell will explore the role that art and technology has played and continues to play in shifting understandings of human exploration. What are the stakes—social, ethical, ontological— in appropriating astronautics for artistic purposes for example? What are the consequences, both intended and not, of placing artworks/artists into diverse cultural contexts, from the space analogue to the launch vehicle? What would it take to RSVP YES to #DearMoon?

An Australia Council Fellowship in Emerging and Experimental Arts supported her latest Performing Astronautics projects. She highlights the impact of cinematic-robotic and immersive visualization technology vital to understanding and assisting human movement, including working as an artist astronaut. Pell is uniquely positioned as a commercial diver, commercial spaceflight candidate, and spacesuit validation test pilot. She qualified for a polar suborbital mission specialist, and served as the Simulation Astronaut for Project Moonwalk subsea lunar analogue human-robotic co-operation trials 2016; Artist-in-Residence for the Mars Desert Research Station Crew188, and Commander of Lunares 3 Crew Spectra Mission 2018. Former Chair of the European Space Agency (Topical Team Art & Science), graduate of the International Space University, and NASA consultant, Pell champions sci-art approaches and human spaceflight as priorities for the new Australian Space Agency.