New artist in residence at ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team
20 July 2016 ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team (ACT) welcomes Jorge Mañes Rubio, it’s new artist in residence. Jorge started developing his interest for space exploration in 2015 when at the AIAV Art Centre in Japan he organised an exhibition which revolved around the life of an unknown local hero who became obsessed with the idea of going to the Moon and created his own secret Space Program. Several artefacts such as a section of his Lunar Module or a Cosmic Japanese Byobu were displayed together with photographs and various memorabilia from this ‘secret mission’. Navigating between historical references and futuristic scenarios, visitors were transported to a not so far future, where corporations and agencies might be searching in space for the resources that are scarce on Earth, starting a new space exploration era.
Jorge summarises his approach “I strongly believe that by reimagining our surroundings, we can build alternative worlds, and in this utopian process we will manage to see beyond our own limitations, we’ll manage to articulate new social scenarios. When we stop discerning the boundaries between what’s possible and what’s not, that’s when the real journey begins. Operating on a very similar way, space exploration allows us to peak into the very limits of our universe, and therefore the limits of our human civilisation. My work at ESA won’t be about adding a visual element to scientific data or research, but it will rather be about reflecting on a new era of colonisation and exploitation of celestial bodies, and its multiple implications and consequences.”
His main interest during the next few months will be envisioning the many implications and responsibilities of a new global space project and changes to the space mission paradigm, involving both space agencies and the private sector. He is interested in questions such as the potential turning point effects of a permanent base on the Moon when astronauts might become lunar citizens, giving rise to a new civilisation. Jorge is convinced “Space is changing, and a permanent settlement out of our planet symbolizes a great opportunity to represent an infinity of cultures, nations and ethnics; it could be the origin of a new civilisation that would represent us all as human species. In my work I will explore this new era of space colonisation, addressing the most fundamental questions, gazing into futuristic and even fictional scenarios, but also looking back into the origins of our many different civilisations, rituals, and traditions from a historical and even spiritual level.“
What are going to be the motivations and needs of this new space civilisation? What sort of rituals, aesthetics and cultural artefacts will be created by it? From the first lunar ‘temple’ to a new space currency, these and many other unanswered questions represent an interesting source of inspiration for Jorge. His intention is to create a new art project that will shine a different light on these questions, a story one can relate to while at the same time being drown into uncharted and exciting territories.
“We are happy to host Jorge in the team since he brings in different perspectives”, confirms Leopold Summerer, head of the ACT. “It also allows us to benefit from creative and innovative processes in the arts by exploring parallels and differences to the scientific creative process, which is at the heart of the ACT.”
About Jorge: Jorge Mañes Rubio is a sort of sociohistorical alchemist. When he travels, he absorbs what he sees and hears, and uses it as raw material to “reimagine what could be instead.” He graduated in Design Products from the Royal College of Art London in 2010, where he confirmed his indefatigable desire to travel beyond the usual scopes of design. In 2014 he obtained the prestigious TED fellowship and a year later the S&R Foundation Washington Award. Rubio has been a guest lecturer at several international conferences, and his work is regularly exhibited in galleries, museums and art centres worldwide. He is currently working as an Artist in Residence at ESA.