Alexander Polischuk Comments
Translated from the Russian language audio recording made on Mir space station - 1993
[ Deutsch - German ]
To find oneself in weightlessness in space is an entirely new phenomena for a human being who has lived his entire life on Earth. It is even difficult to explain what kind of feeling that is.
As far I have conducted tests on Earth as an engineer. But now I have a new function as pilot-cosmonaut. We cosmonauts, who take part in long range space programs, have to be "all-round"-cosmonauts: we are assemblers as well as mechanics. And in the most recent program we even have become Earth watchers. The Earth is very beautiful. But besides the beautiful pictures we also have to bring back useful information. And in a certain sense we also have become ecologists.
Prior to commencing to fly, I was interested in art and relaxed with it from my professional occupation. During my student time I attended music school. There I played the bandoneon and the clarinet. Later in university I played the saxophone. On board we have now a keyboard which was brought to us by Jean Luc Cretien. In our free time we sometimes play it. But there are also moments, where for weeks I can not even look out of the portal as I am too busy carrying out operational and reparation works on the station. The station is over seven years old and needs special attention. And those are the days where, when having a free minute, it is comfortable to look at some art object, it being a picture or a sculpture like we have taken with us on board.
When the Progress arrived and we unwrapped the sculpture we were very pleased as it was like we saw an old acquaintance. But we were quite surprised as the color of the sculpture was different than the training model - it was green! But it was maybe even better so. The combination of the light green and yellow color has a more calming effect and this is very important for us in stress situations.
The form of the sculpture is original, angular and avantgarde, and inspires for diverse thoughts and fantasies. One can see in this figure any being one wants. Therefore it is interesting to enjoy looking at it and to hold it in ones hands. When holding it in ones hands, one caresses it and feels a cozy feeling, as if one would hold a living being. We think that such art works are not only important to the artists who send them into space but also for us cosmonauts who simply feel the presence of a little artwork as comfortable.
Letting go of the sculpture, it spins and spins until it reaches an obstacle. The gravity does not disturb it nor does it force it to stand still. The air resistance is so insignificantly small and, through the airflow, it can reach the ventilator net. Therefore we found a fixed place for it. It is right next to my room and I, as engineer of the station or "station-manager", as the commander calls me jokingly, keep it within my reach.
When we let the Cosmic Dancer float freely, it got lost all the time. This happened also with other things. We could look for it for a long time, but then we found out that the stereotypes are strongly implanted in us: we were looking somewhere at the bottom, in the corner, but in space it is all-together different. Any object can fly into a corner and stay there, a meter away from us as if it would make fun of us. "Look, here I am, and you don't even see me! " But as the Cosmic Dancer is quite a bright object, it was always pretty easy to find it again. We never had to look for very long.
The Cosmic Dancer is a curious sculpture, angular and unusual from the classical understanding of art. Nevertheless it made us pleasure. And that it is a "Cosmic Dancer", as the English title says, we have never had any doubt. Particularly interesting it was to dance with it to music. Dancing is meant symbolically as we circled around it and it also moved freely as it wanted and it looked like it circled around us for some reason. That we can really call dancing!
It is interesting to watch the Cosmic Dancer against the portal in the background, but one has to decide whether to look at the Earth or at it. Here, the strong blue color of the Earth or the direct sun rays are interesting. Here the "Cosmic Dancer" plays with its new colors and looks a bit different.
Very interesting is the behavior of the construction and the surface of the sculpture when its angular shape touches a transparent media, such as a liquid substance. In our case we filmed its behavior near water. These are two entirely different things. Art - and next to it a physical media which looks very interesting in the absence of gravity. These two different forms move in a certain sense differently and yet still the same. Here the behavior of a liquid and the one of a solid material are easy to observe; they both possess a moment of inertia. The rotating movement of the water in front of our sculpture Cosmic Dancer is somehow perceived differently and is interesting, not only in view of the weightlessness, but also from an emotional and aesthetic viewpoint. Sometimes it behaves like a living being, it swings and floats.
In space the perception of music changes. Before going to sleep I liked to listen to concerts of Vivaldi and Bach. I wanted to know how instruments like the organ or the violin sound there. Because of its originality, the shape of the Cosmic Dancer sculpture has suggested the impression of a new musical instrument. And contemplating the sculpture turning in weightlessness while listening to music results in an effect which is possibly totally unknown on Earth. It is difficult to describe this effect.
I have said a few things about the sculpture but one could actually talk about art and about art in space endlessly. It would be very interesting to meet and discuss with the creator of the sculpture "Cosmic Dancer" or also with other artists of different art directions. I would be glad to answer further questions on Earth while meeting with artists, maybe also with composers who create a special space music.