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Sojourner2020, Photo Credit: Wenjun Liang

Mixed Media Sculpture

Functional Payload on board International Space Station
Sojourner2020, the first international art open call that took a trip to International Space Station this March. 

Sojourner 2020 is created by an unprecedented collection of international artists, bringing in knowledge from indigenous groups, queer communities, and diverse cultures, as well as transdisciplinary perspectives. 


a 1.5U size unit, 100mm x 100mm x 152.4mm
Customized mechanical system and electronics, 3D printed enclosures, motors, gears and polycarbonate pockets

Through the ages, artists, writers, and filmmakers have always been inspired by space. Artists’ visionary depictions of space as an environment for people have influenced the scientific and engineering feats we know so well today. How will artists continue to inspire the future of space exploration? What are the opportunities and challenges in the creation of art for space, and art depicting space and space technologies?

In 2019, the Space Exploration Initiative announced an open call to invite artists to submit artworks for an exciting ISS launch opportunity, initiated by myself as its Arts Curator. Sojourner 2020 (a 1.5U size unit, 100mm x 100mm x 152.4mm ) will be launched into low Earth orbit for about 30 days. It features a three-layer telescoping structure which creates three different “gravities”: zero gravity, lunar gravity, and Martian gravity. Each layer of the structure rotates independently. The top layer remains still in weightlessness, while the middle and bottom layers spin at different speeds to produce centripetal accelerations that mimic lunar gravity and Martian gravity, respectively. Each layer carries 6 pockets that can hold projects. 

The concept is to create a condominium spaceship that can support independent projects. After three rounds of reviews, nine groups of artists are selected to be on board Sojourner 2020, an international art payload.

Luis Guzman - bioarchitectures - Chile

Xin Liu, Lucia Monge - Unearthing the Futures - China & Peru

Andrea Ling - Abiogenetic Triptych - USA, Canada

Kat  Kohl - Memory Chain: A Pas de Deux of Artifact - USA

Henry Tan - Pearl of Lunar - Thai

Janet Biggs - Finding Equilibrium - USA

Masahito Ono - Nothing, Something, Everything - Japan

Adriana Knouf - TX-1 - USA

Erin Genia - Canupa Inyan: Falling Star Woman - American Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate

Each pocket is a container with 10mm in diameter and 12mm in depth. Though the space is limited, the artist groups proposed and accomplished artworks in a variety of different mediums, including carved stone sculpture by Erin Genia, liquid pigment experiments by Andrea Ling and Levi Cai, sculptures made of transgender hormone replacement meds by Adriana Knouf, among the others. 

We have launched the project in March 2020 and successfully retrieved the payload back to the artists. Please check out our artist conversation in Ars Electronica Festival for more details on its on-going process.


Courtesy MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative and Xin Liu.
Featured photos: Wenjun Liang

Sojourner2020 Payload
Design and fabrication: Xin Liu 
Camera and electronics: Gershon Dublon, slow immediate LLC 

All internal payload artwork credits belong to independent artists listed above.

Special Thanks to:
 MIT Media Lab 
New Lab
New INC, New Museum 
Pete Dilworth