Particle physics art

An art sculpture that cannot exist on Earth will be launched into space as part of Israel’s ‘Rakia’ space mission

The work “Impossible Object”. Photo: Dr. Yasmine Meroz and Liat Segal.

A sculpture that tests the boundaries between physics and art will travel with Israel’s “Rakia” space mission to the International Space Station on Friday.

The sculpture, called “Impossible Object,” is a collaboration between Tel Aviv University physicist Dr. Yasmine Meroz and contemporary artist Liat Segal, who were both graduate students from the same lab.

The research-based artwork is made of interconnected brass pipes and rods, through which water flows. However, because the three-dimensional shape of the liquid is not shaped by any vessel, the sculpture cannot exist on earth but only in the weightless conditions of outer space.

In the absence of gravity, the water “will adhere to the rods and form a liquid layer shaped by the tension of the water, which envelops the brass structure, giving a three-dimensional shape that changes over time,” TAU said in a statement. “The underlying brass structure is reminiscent of a wavy, directionless staircase, raising questions about shape and form in the absence of gravity and directionality. In particular, what is the shape of water? a “slice of sea” or a “handful of waves”?

Meroz said that in “Impossible Object”, physics manipulates the behavior of water in the absence of gravity. She added: “I learned a lot during this process and I have no doubt that it will contribute to the research in my laboratory. In this regard, this work expresses the unrealized potential of the synergy between art and scientific research… both are the result of a thought process in which creativity plays a central role and are motivated by the desire to pose interesting questions.

Segal said the sculpture “comes at a good time, weighing the role of culture and art at a time when humanity is experiencing accelerated 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 the arts in our lives, on earth and beyond. “, she noted.

“Impossible Object” is the second collaboration between Meroz and Segal. Their previous work, “Tropism”, was exhibited at TAU.

The 10-day trip to the International Space Station is managed by Houston-based Axiom Space and will depart with four private astronauts. Eytan Stibbe joined the crew as part of Israel’s “Rakia” mission, run by the non-profit Ramon Foundation and the Israel Space Agency’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

He will be the second Israeli in space and the first on the ISS.