3D Water Sculpture Launched to Space

Dubbed “Impossible Object,” the structure that can only form in zero-gravity can now be enjoyed at the International Space Station

07 April 2022


TAU physicist Dr. Yasmine Meroz and contemporary artist Liat Segal created a sculpture made of water, dubbed the ‘Impossible Object’, which was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the ‘Rakia’ mission with Israeli astronaut, Eytan Stibbe. 


The Shape of Water

During the historic AX-1 mission - the first private astronaut mission on the International Space Station - for the first time in history, civilian space tourists will conduct scientific and artistic experiments at the International Space Station. As part of an art mission by Rakia and the Ramon foundation, in collaboration with the Center for Digital Art – Holon and with the support of the Mifal HaPais Council for the Culture and Arts, Meroz and Segal were invited, as part of a selected group of 15 artists, to suggest ideas for artistic works to be activated and documented at the space station by the ‘Rakia’ art mission. The artists were supported by Udi Edelman, the project curator and an advisory board. 


"The curator of the artistic mission, Udi Edelman, approached me and a selected group of artists with the opportunity to suggest a project that will travel onboard AX-1 to the ISS," says Segal. "I immediately thought of Yasmine, who was a perfect partner for this project. Yasmine and I had collaborated on another artistic project, Tropism, that exhibited at the Genia Schreiber University Art Gallery and we share a long history." 


Among the topics the artists were invited to work on: the non-human dimensions - the astronomical, the molecular, the virtual; the human body in space; psychology of the stay in space; sound and communication in the Space Station; linkages to the scientific and educational missions and their expansion.


‘Impossible Object’ is a sculpture made of water. Segal explains that their starting point was that they wanted to suggest an artwork that cannot exist on earth, but only in micro-gravity. The liquid’s three-dimensional form does not get its shape from any vessel and as such cannot exist on earth, but only in outer space in the absence of gravity. The sculpture is made of interconnected brass pipes and rods through which water flows. In the absence of gravity, the water adheres to the rods, and forms a liquid layer shaped by water tension, yielding a dynamic three-dimensional shape. The underlying brass structure is reminiscent of a wavy and directionless staircase, raising questions about shape and form in the absence of gravity and directionality. What is the shape of water? What does a "piece of the sea," or "handful of a wave" look like?


Dr. Yasmine Meroz is a senior faculty member at the School of Plant Sciences and Food Security, The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, and her lab studies the physics of plant systems. Contemporary artist Liat Segal studied computer science and biology and worked in the hi-tech industry for several years, before shifting her career to arts. A special bond was created between the two while they were graduate students at the same lab at TAU. 


One comes from the world of science and the other from art, but they are from the same planet and sent their joint work to space. From left to right: Dr. Yasmine Meroz and Liat Segal (photo credits: Naomi Meroz and Viviane Wild)


Intersection of Science and Art

The pair challenge the boundaries between the field of physics and art. Many think of as an exact science as a field that requires the application of analytical and quantitative abilities, while art is based on emotion and creativity. Meroz emphasizes how "art and scientific research have a lot in common, as they are both results of a thought process in which creativity plays a central role and are motivated by the desire to ask interesting questions. 'Impossible Object' is a research-based artwork, and the medium is basically the physics underpinning water behavior in the absence of gravity."


Segal adds: "‘Impossible Object’ is timely, and poses questions about the role of culture and art in an era of unceasing scientific and technological developments. Following incredible technological and scientific achievements in space, and as space tourism becomes tangible, it is important to reflect on the place of culture and arts in our lives, on earth and beyond.”

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