Personal Space

Personal Space

Gherman Titov was the second man to orbit the earth and the first to sleep in space. He was also the first to orbit the earth multiple times, photograph the earth from space with his own camera, and remains the youngest person ever in space.

Shortly after takeoff, he also became the first man to fall violently ill in space. For his remaining 17 orbits of the earth, Cosmonaut Titov was accompanied by the floating aftermath of his illness. Upon landing, the ground crew that opened his capsule reportedly recoiled from the incredible stench of vomit and body odor built-up inside his small, poorly ventilated capsule.

Space travel is an inspiring triumph of technological accomplishment and political willpower. It is also a monumental reminder of the limits of our bodies. The vast backdrop of space foregrounds the fragility of our humanity and the incredible importance of our mundane needs in an environment so relentlessly hostile. Much like early open cockpit planes, the design of today’s spaceships and stations foregoes bodily comfort and elegance for the sake of efficiency and practicality. With government funding and scientific mission goals, there isn’t really another option.

Personal Space looks forward to the future heyday of private space travel, when the emphasis of design shifts to elegance and comfort. As astronauts become the mission financiers themselves through their ticket purchases, the comfort and quality of the travel experience will undergo much the same domestication as did aviation in the 20th century. The objects in the exhibition are future interior fittings for space stations that emphasize the sensorial experience of orbit, connecting to and sheltering from the extreme conditions of outer space. Foregrounding taste, touch and breath they anticipate new ways of living in orbit for our earthly bodies.