LIFE AT THE EDGES is the current exhibition at Science Gallery celebrating human curiosity at the edges of life's existence. What's it like to spend time in space, or at the bottom of the ocean, or inside a volcano? What do the frontiers of the future look like? Our curiosity has really been sparked by this exhibition, and it was a lot of fun creating a collection for the shop.
In 2012, the Curiosity Rover touched down on Mars, and our relationship with our nearest neighbour hasn't been the same since! (We love getting live updates from the Rover itself, via it's very own twitter account.) The Rover and the mission is the inspiration for Curiosity Zine, a beautifully illustrated risograph zine. It's rare to see zines in an exhibition and in this show Science Gallery Dublin are really spoiling us. Chimponauts & Astrocats is an illustrated history of animals in space; we've all heard of monkeys, cats, dogs and mice but have you heard of turtles, hamsters, sea urchins, frogs, jellyfish, insects and even an axolotl (Mexican walking fish)! We're delighted to have both of these deadly zines for sale in the shop.
Since Curiosity, Mars has definitely become the next big milestone in space exploration. In January 2017, Irish engineer, scientist, and artist Niamh Shaw took part in a simulated Mars mission in a remote desert in Utah. She and her four crew members lived in a confined 8m diameter space, each with their own dark windowless sleeping areas, rationed food and water, and working exhausting schedules.
Heart Of The Mission is an installation recreating the conditions of that mission, which will really make you appreciate the mental strength required to be an astronaut. Can you imagine living on another planet? Have you ever wondered what it's really like in space? How do you fall asleep midair in a floating environment? What does it feel like to burp and sneeze in space? How does it feel to come back to earth and readjust your body? Well, who better to ask than the women and men who've actually been there!
What's it like in Space? is full of stories from dozens of international astronauts who have returned with accounts of the sometimes weird, often funny, and awe-inspiring sensations and realities of being in space.
And have you ever thought about what astronauts eat in space? Astronaut food of course! Since the early Mercury Missions ice-cream has been used aboard space missions and is still used on NASA missions today. You have got to try it - an ice-cream sandwich, but it's not cold, or wet? Who cares, it tastes just like the real thing, delicious!
We've put together an amazing collection of space-inspired books which can be enjoyed on Earth too. Space Barons looks at the people funding space exploration today. Earth Gazers tells the story of the first manned space mission. Space Chronicles is an anthology of Neil De Grasse Tyson's writings about the history, present and future of space travel. You can almost hear his voice in your head as you read it!
We especially love Soviet Space Dogs a book that tells the ‘tail’ of the dogs of the Soviet Space Programme of the 50s and 60s. You might have heard of Laika - the first dog to enter orbit but there’s many more pooches who were flown up into suborbital space. This book is filled with tons of amazing pictures of rare ephemera and the Spacedogs! It’s totally Pawsome!!!
Of course, not all of the extremes of life happen in space. We were really captivated by the piece in the exhibition Antarctica: A Chromatic Paradox. When we think of Antarctica, we tend to think of a world without colour or life - all ice blue and snow white. But this piece shows the abundance of colour above and below the water. It gave us jolts of creativity!
For some more inspiration from nature closer to home, check out Tapestry of Light, which celebrates Ireland's bogs as you've never seen them before. And if you are feeling inspired by science and nature to dive into art, check out Bio Art - a guide to a growing art form which combines scientific techniques and tools with unbound artistry and creativity to make things which are really special.
Souvenirs of Creation is a sculpture installation created with molted lava at the site of an active volcano - difficult to get closer to the extremes of life than that! While the art itself is extraordinary, you can also see a video of the artist making it, and this adds an extra dimension to the pieces.
To learn more about the type people who thrive at the extreme limits of life, (for example, right next to an active volcano) you can read Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits. This book is a really motivating read, especially for those with a competitive spirit!
LIFE AT THE EDGES runs until the 30th of September. We hope you'll enjoy it as much as we did!