Skip to content

Critical art and outer space: examining space as a global commons

Illuminated globe outline with two people visible behind

Joanna Griffin & Alejo Duque, Bogota Declaration

The ‘Critical Issues in Outer Space’ session at the Association of American Geographers’ huge Annual Meeting in San Francisco last week was scheduled in the daunting 8am slot on the final day. Nonetheless, a good audience gathered, perhaps indicating the rising interest in the topic of outer space within geography.

Julie Klinger, convener of the session, gave a stimulating presentation on the new challenges to international outer space treaties (that designate outer space as a common heritage of all humankind) from state and private sector interests in off-Earth mining *, particularly looking at mining interests on the Moon.

Danny Bednar’s paper considered the complex landscape of actors and interests involved in today’s outer space activities – from use of orbits, exploration of the solar system, to proposed colonization and exploitation. He proposed that concepts of ‘governance’ from the social sciences, which emphasize the shift in the processes of politics away from purely state actors to numerous private interests, can make a useful contribution to understanding current space issues.

My paper – which you can listen to below – discussed some of the critical strategies employed by curators and artists to engage with the political and spatial nature of outer space as a global commons, including Marko Peljhan’s Makrolab, Joanna Griffin’s Satellite Stories and, in collaboration with Alejo Duque, Bogota Declaration, my own work with the European Space Agency and International Astronautical Federation and the ITACCUS committee, and Arts Catalyst’s exhibition ‘Republic of the Moon’. I argued that critical artistic and curatorial practices can contribute to our understanding of outer space as a dynamic and socially constructed space, and help to shape the social imaginary of the region around our planet as an important global commons.


(apologies for poor audio quality)

The session included by a Skype presentation by James Ormrod, presenting the book that he has co-edited with Peter Dickens ‘The Palgrave Handbook of Society, Culture and Outer Space’, a strong collection of texts from many disciplines, showing the compelling contribution being made to our understanding of outer space issues by the social sciences, arts and humanities. I’ll try to review this book in a later blog post, but in the meantime I’m thoroughly enjoying read the essays in it. I should add the proviso that art is represented in the book by a chapter that I have written, in which I chart the construction of a ‘space imaginary’ through the visual arts.

* Four months ago, the US Senate passed the Space Act of 2015, which grants U.S. citizens or corporations the right to legally claim non-living natural resources — including water and minerals — mined in outer space. This law directly conflicts with international law. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, to which the US is a signatory, states: “Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” Legally, the US cannot give rights to claim off-planet resources to which it does not have ownership.

 

Advertisements
One Comment Post a comment
  1. Interstellar Explorer Of the Universe #

    Dear Nicola, brilliant! Just read the text (couldn’t listen to audio yet).And yet again: you are spot ON our timely geo-ball – as Arts Cat. is, by habit & by definition.By a nice personal & common coincidence, i’ve JUST sent you one of my usual poems,this time a ‘No poem’, quite specifically & deliberately so (partly) titled, containing – (THE VERY VERY reason for its little out of the blue emerged existence at all) –  that utterly FANTASTIC yesterday-fresh news of Stephen Hawking & Yuri Miller project of the ‘POSTAGE STAMP’ sized INTER-STELLAR spacecraft, to be travelling at the  previously impossible to realistically conceive (merely theoretically so far, of course) speeds. Total conceptual brilliance, of course!!! Anyway = congratulations, on your new supertopical blpgpost. Ahoy.

    Ivan

    From: Nicola Triscott To: interstellar.explorer@yahoo.co.uk Sent: Wednesday, 13 April 2016, 12:58 Subject: [New post] Critical art and outer space: examining space as a global commons #yiv5793451655 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv5793451655 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv5793451655 a.yiv5793451655primaryactionlink:link, #yiv5793451655 a.yiv5793451655primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv5793451655 a.yiv5793451655primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv5793451655 a.yiv5793451655primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv5793451655 WordPress.com | Nicola Triscott posted: “The ‘Critical Issues in Outer Space’ session at the Association of American Geographers’ huge Annual Meeting in San Francisco last week was scheduled in the daunting 8am slot on the final day. Nonetheless, a good audience gathered, perhaps indicating ” | |

    April 13, 2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: