Israeli artwork ‘Impossible Object’ on way to International Space Station

April 7, 2022 by TPS
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A unique partnership between an Israeli physicist and an artist has led to a unique work of art, which will be dispatched to the International Space Station.

The Impossible Object. (Dr. Yasmine Meroz & Liat Segal)

Physics and art are usually unrelated words. However, a collaboration between the Israeli physicist Dr Yasmine Meroz of Tel Aviv University and contemporary artist Liat Segal challenged these boundaries, and their joint work, called “Impossible Object,” will be launched early April to the International Space Station (ISS), as part of the ‘Rakia’ mission of Israeli astronaut Eitan Stiva.

Dr Meroz is a senior faculty member at the School of Plant Sciences and Food Security at the Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, whose 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.

The special bond between the two was created when they were graduate students at the same lab at Tel Aviv University.

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“Impossible Object” is a sculpture made of water. 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, which envelopes the brass structure, yielding a three-dimensional shape that changes over time. 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. In particular, what is the shape of water? What does a “slice of the sea,” or a “handful of a wave” look like?

“There is much in common 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 ask interesting questions. ‘Impossible Object’ is a research-based artwork, where the medium is basically the physics underpinning water behavior in the absence of gravity,” Meroz shared.

“I learned a lot in the process, and I have no doubt it will contribute to research in my laboratory. In this respect, this work expresses the unrealized potential of the synergy between art and scientific research,” she added.

Segal said that in the collaboration, they “not only shared knowledge and inspiration, but we were also able to bring about a true co-creation, which could not have been realized by each one of us individually. ‘Impossible Object’ is timely, weighing the role of culture and art in an era 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 arts in our lives, on earth and beyond”.


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