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Limb from Limb 2021


 I am fascinated by the images collected from satellites in space and the work of NASA. The vision it gives us to see where we fit so small in the vast place of space.


I am sceptical about human travel beyond the moon though, and the difficulties that space travel will present to man. We are so intrinsically tied to the earth for our anatomy, especially throughout our development. I don’t think we have gone the full way by any means to understand this complex relationship to this world. We are built for this world and its characteristics only. We will have to take this world and all its qualities into space if we want to travel to Mars or anywhere beyond and this will be so, so, unimaginably complex. We grow up with stimuli so complex, the intertwining forest, the feel of warmth of another body, that replicating, reproducing it all in space would be so difficult, and this is what it will mean if we are to inhabit any other part of the universe. Getting the nuances right will be so difficult. It makes me turn to this world and to think we so much need to look after it better.


For the work I took an old image of my own body; historically I have worked from these kinds of medicalised images to make work (see the work Disperse, at I manipulated the image in Photoshop in two ways one for each of the pair of balloons that makes up the work Limb from Limb. One I altered as a sort of 'normal' body and the other taking on the exaggerated effects that I understood happen to the body from the NASA Twin Study and from other sources that discuss the anatomical issues of space travel. Space flight leads to loss of both skeletal muscle mass (atrophy) and strength, your heart gets weaker, the right and left ventricles decrease in mass, more blood stays in the legs and less blood is returned to the heart, your immune system suffers etc.


The images were transfer-printed onto the two balloons when adulteration was completed. The two balloons have fans that inflate them, set in the mouth of each of the balloon. The fans are controlled by individual sensors that are set off by the audience; causing the balloons to inflate and deflate at different times. One aspect of the work I like is that when the balloons are inflated and the fans go off, there is silence and the balloons quietly, ever so quietly drift back to being flat on the floor. The silence of outer space perhaps?


The latex balloons are also very fragile and thin-skinned, they are like the 'skin' of this planet Earth, the zone we live in. For me, this gives a sense of the vulnerability that comes with space travel.


The works were made for the new RSU Anatomy Museum, Riga, Latvia for a show called Anatomy and Beyond, the inaugural show at the museum, The museum is close to the Pauls Stradins Museum of the History of Medicine in Riga, one of the largest medical museums in the world, Having visited the Stradins museum on a previous trip it was one of the starting points for the balloon work. In the museum, there is a room devoted to the research of outer space and medicine, in which Latvian scientists took part during the time of the USSR. A stuffed dog, Chernushka, is displayed in the room, one of the first dogs to be sent into space and brought back to Earth alive. The fate of earlier dogs like Laika, the first mammal in space, is a more sobering reminder of the difficulties of space travel.


It brings into focus the extraordinary endeavours of astronauts who help bring back the images of space.


Further balloon works can be seen at

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