ARS IN VACUO
A CONVERSATION WITH THE CURATOR OF THE UNIVERSE
on the Universe as exhibition space through the lens of a fictional curator
ArtScience Interfaculty Master Thesis © Daan Westerheide, 2020

The following is an excerpt from my master thesis:

COSMIC EXHIBITION SPHERE

 

Your first big project in outer space was the CES. By now you have an enormous amount of these transparent showcases floating around everywhere in space.

You can picture a Cosmic Exhibition Sphere or Showcase as a human constructed mini planet. They come in different transparencies. Some are equipped with gravity. Depending on which artwork resides within it. Especially in fine arts paintings, they push and pull you in and out. So some are also accessible, to get up close to the artwork. Each CES has its automatic restorer as well. Our design team was inspired by the Hohlwelten by Dorothee Golz. Those works had a resounding influence on its construction, its transparency. The CES acts like a spherical vitrine, a housing for art, and blends in with the rotundity of the readymades; the planets and stars.


 

The CES is not in orbit around a planet or star anymore but Malevich’ Planit is somehow related to your CES, wouldn’t you say?

 

This rectangular and opaque constructivism is a mere satellite. Planit is very much a design and architectural concept and related to a scientific time period rather than an aesthetic work where art has a place to be exposed in, a confined space. Accidentally, a CES can also be perceived as an artwork on its own.

 

When you said ‘a housing for art’, I thought its main purpose was archiving art rather than being part of the Great Exhibition.

It sure is part of the show. Why would it be transparent otherwise?


To perceive the CES is like a hide and seek for the visitor? Your exosuit has some sort of tentacles to reach out for the sphere? It would be exciting if you have to somehow seize it with your extended hands in the darkness of space.

It’s not that kind of show, at least not for experiencing a CES. The first CES edition was solar powered when they were still inside the solar system. Now, we have what we call a Sphæra Lucis (SL) installed in each CES. It is an invisible light source illuminating the whole sphere. Its light intensity can be automatically adjusted to the eye of the beholder and can be appropriated to the specific artwork. 



As I understand from my poor Latin it is kind of a light sphere?


‘It must have a spherical form because the sphere symbolises the optimal shape; it must be suffused with light because light is the physical optimum; and rationally it must be completely transparent because transparency signifies the cognitive optimum.’

At the same time I think the sphere symbolises a blindfolded Fortuna...

...who is precariously balancing on a globe not knowing where to go?

An unstable and fickle shape I would say.


The shape of optimal imperfection. Isn’t that a bit oxymoronic?