Lecture

Three stars and a window in outer space

Ronald van Tienhoven
Blauwe Zaal Auditorium
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Method and metaphor, system and serendipity

During the Gemini program, launched by NASA in 1958, the astronaut team needed to convince NASA engineers to have a window installed in their spacecraft. Departing from the notion that astronauts were merely instrumental in doing pre-programmed tasks during spaceflights, a window wasn’t considered to be necessary. This conflict symbolizes the gap between utilitarian thinking and design empathy and the psychological consequences of missions in outer space.

In 2006 the European Space Agency (ESA) teamed up with 3-star French chef Alain Ducasse, aiming to develop out-of-this-world cuisine for astronauts on their long-duration spaceflight to Mars and their subsequent stay on the Red Planet. The exquisite menu that followed was based on only nine main ingredients that could be grown and harvested by the Mars explorers.
On the one hand there is a universal urge to deploy the arts, design and science in unison. On the other hand there still seems to be a lingering discrepancy that has, admittedly, been bridged considerably between 1958 and 2006, but still needs to gain the necessary momentum in order to become fully effective and meaningful.

This lecture is intended to trigger the discussion about method and metaphor, system and serendipity, and the many opportunities in optimizing anticipatory art & design science.

Ronald van Tienhoven is an artist, designer, and intermediary, specializing in fine cultural forensics. From 1993 onward he worked primarily in the public domain with projects both in the Netherlands and abroad, ranging from landscape art to euro coin design. His toolbox is multidisciplinary, his contexts are manifold. Between 2002 and 2010 he worked at Eindhoven University of Technology’s Industrial Design Department.