Space-inspired Star Storm to premiere next month

30 August 2017

Star Storm, an explosive performance inspired by stellar processes in the Universe, will be premiered at the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria, on 10 September.

The creator of the show is Aoife van Linden Tol, the recipient of the first art&science@ESA residency organised by Ars Electronica in partnership with ESA.

A multimedia artist working primarily with explosive materials, Aoife spent six weeks at ESA’s technical heart in the Netherlands to research her project.

During that first part of her residency, she had numerous conversations and brainstorming sessions with scientists, absorbing information about research on the composition, life cycle, magnetic behaviour and light production within stars, including our Sun.

Drawing from the information she collected at ESA, Aoife designed a powerful and poetic experience with a series of explosive events.

Each represents a specific phenomenon that might be taking place at any time in stars somewhere in the Universe.

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Lost in the photosphere by Aoife van Linden TolAccess the image

“From the Big Bang to solar mass ejections and supernovas, the spacescape is alive with explosions,” says Aoife.

In the second part of her residency, spent at Ars Electronica’s Futurelab, the artist tested all the techniques needed for the show.

“The last 12 months have been a wonderful opportunity and a life-changing experience. It has not only allowed me deep research and inspiration to develop an ambitious and seemingly impossible idea, but also enriched my artistic practice and sparked a keen interest in engaging with the development of space culture.”

Star Storm aims to create a unique and lasting experience, providing spectators with insights into the nature of our Universe and their own place within it.

This year’s Ars Electronica Festival, on 7–11 September, is dedicated to the theme of artificial intelligence.

Another highlight will be kinetic artist and roboticist Sarah Petkus, who was awarded an honorary mention by the jury of the art&science@ESA residency and who also spent three weeks at ESA in the Netherlands.

There, exploring aspects of robotic exploration in space, Sarah used her robot, NoodleFeet, to catalyse interactions with scientists and engineers from ESA’s robotic laboratories.

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Sarah Petkus with NoodleFeet at ESAAccess the image

Her project, The Wandering Artist, ponders the possibilities of a space probe that would visit another planet and take decisions based on creative grounds, rather than purely scientific reasoning.

“It was exciting to discover and define new points of overlap between my robotic creations and the scientific instruments they are inspired by,” says Sarah.

“The residency has shone light on the true and sometimes overlooked elements of humanity present in space exploration, and has helped me think critically about how we relate to the technology we create.”

Back at her studio, Sarah has prepared NoodleFeet for the festival, along with four mechanical renditions of his foot appendages, which she has designed to allow him to interact with the environment in personally expressive ways.

The behaviours she chose to emulate are inspired by elements of adolescence, like curiosity, preference, and developing a sense of taste. These mechanisms will be on display, along with NoodleFeet, in a reproduction of a Mars environment as imagined by the adolescent robot.

The Wandering Artist will be on display during the entire length of the festival.

“We greatly enjoyed the visits of Aoife and Sarah, both of who pose fundamental questions about the technical, cultural and emotional basis for human observation, investigation and exploration of space,” says Mark McCaughrean ESA’s Senior Advisor for Science & Exploration.

“While our daily work is focused on building spacecraft and launching them, this encounter between art and science reminds us how important it is for ESA to engage with the wider cultural context across society, both to inspire and to be inspired.”

More about the residency on the art&science@ESA blog and about the festival on the Ars Electronica website.

For further information, please contact:

Markus Bauer 



ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer




Tel: +31 71 565 6799





Mob: +31 61 594 3 954





Email: markus.bauer@esa.int




Jessica Galirow 
Ars Electronica Linz GmbH and Co KG
Linz, Austria
Tel: +43 732 7272 783
Email: jessica.galirow@aec.at

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