Most people will be aware of the Mars One mission, which aims to create the first human settlement on Mars in 2024. By playing with the concept of “live” broadcasting, Catharina Cronenberger Golebiowska is developing a performance piece that questions the notion of “time” itself. Samuel Fry asks her about Mars One Extended.
You are currently preparing a performance piece based on the Mars One mission. How would you describe the project?
Mars One Extended is a series of performances and workshops in Bracknell, Margate and London accompanied by a livestream. This is my first foray in moving my visual art practice into live art. I am inspired by Mars One, a non-profit organisation that aims to create the first human settlement on Mars in 2024 funded by selling a Big Brother stream of the civilian crew.
As one of the original 200,000 applicants to the Mars One mission, my artistic engagement in this controversial subject will involve me acting inside a monitored Martian capsule, a transparent, inflatable bubble, as the chosen astronaut, exploring, educating and debating related topics.
Where did the idea come from?
It was whilst studying at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, that my enthusiasm in space exploration began. My work often lays somewhere between art, science and technology. Thus, this Open Call to become an astronaut caught my attention. In 2013 I gave a paper on the Mars One astronaut selection process, exploring the likely psychological impact of surveillance, at Monochrome’s Arse Elektronika in San Francisco. The audience was clearly interested in this topic and so I was inspired to continue approaching this mission artistically. I then took up a residency at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, where I realised that sharing my art projects live and online would be appropriate.
You will be broadcasting this live, but with a time delay. Why are you doing this?
I want to research how psychological effects of isolation and the impossibility of real-time video connection with Earth might impact future colonists. My performances will focus on the various tasks and pre-occupations of a human confined to a life on Mars; working on robotic devices, analysing probes and communicating with my audience over a blog. Depending on the relative orbiting positions of Mars and Earth, transmissions will be delayed by 3-22 minutes and I will manipulate the livestream to mirror this time-delay. The results could accumulate in a thought-provoking debate around live and ‘transmitted’ events, or simply bring about possible comical or dramatic accidents.
Will you be working with any other companies on this project?
I am supported as a commissioned artist on the UPstream digital performance Research and Development scheme by SHPLive, a funded project based at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Berkshire. UPstream is a partnership with Farnham Maltings’ Greenhouse programme. Both of these programmes provide specific opportunities for the arts, while supporting the production of new work. Both organisations are providing me with access to their mailing lists and web platforms, which will enable me to reach a much larger audience.
You plan to start this process in February. What are your next steps?
My next step is to order my Martian Capsule, which will be produced bespoke to my requirements, and I will start designing my astronaut costume and props. Research towards creating the time-delay and development of the project website are essential at this stage.
Furthermore, I want to approach possible partners who run education programmes. This is where I intend to hold my creative workshops. I want to inform young learners about the Red Planet and interactively develop ideas such as “What might Martian fashion look like?” and “Crafting robot cat companions”.
How do you see this influencing the way we broadcast performances?
For the first time my practice has crossed into the realm of performance, and like the astronauts who will be leaving Earth for Mars, I like to think I am launching into this platform as an explorer, so my approach is a very experimental one. Today’s culture is obsessed with being as close as possible to a media spectacle or updated with new information in real time. Doing the exact opposite and creating a time-delay is my way of playfully approaching time itself. In my performance, time can take away everything, but it can also give everything twice, if you are there at the right …time.