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June 22 2013


Space Suit of the Week: Tonight @ Gallery 1988 West, LA

space the galley show

space the galley show

HI LOS ANGELES! What are you doing tonight? Tonight is the opening for SPACE! The Gallery Show - a group art show curated by artist Mike Mitchell at Gallery1988 (West). The event will feature a collection of original artwork at celebrates the past, present and future of man in the universe. The opening is from 7 – 10 pm; for more info you can scope their Facebook page. I wish I was in town to see it myself.

space the galley show - gallery 1988 west - LA4 space the galley show - gallery 1988 west - LA3

On an aside, the San Francisco Gauntlet Gallery is taking it’s Daft Dunk inspired show, ReDiscovery, to Los Angeles next week. On Thursday, June 27th, The Well will feature the collection full of our favorite helmeted duo. I am keen to think some of the helmets allude to a space helmets – but I’m biased.

So put on your finest (space suit) and paint the town/universe red.


June 07 2013


Space Suit of the Week: Hand Sewn NASA Space Suits

handmade - apollo astroanut -NASA-seamstress

I was a little stressed when Bobby announced that he wanted to do a handmade week. When it comes to aeronautics, handmade is probably the last word that comes to mind. Everything that goes into space is meticulously constructed by machine – if a measurement is off by a hundredth of an inch it could mean disaster. But there is one thing that is made by hand. Spacesuits.

“When she arrived at [the International Latex Corporation (ILC)]’s spacesuit plant in 1965 or 1966, likely transferred from making bras, girdles, or diaper covers for Playtex, a new seamstress would be greeted by her shop-floor supervisor, and ‘taught to sew again from scratch.”

This account opens Nicholas de Monchaux’s narrative of the handmade suit in his Fashioning ApolloAlex and I have mentioned his writing several times on Space Suit of the Week as it is the quintessential narrative of the evolution of the modern space suit. In fact, his work is the foundation of a historically accurate space suit film that Warner Bros. is currently developing.

handmade - apollo astroanut -NASA-seamstress2

The Apollo boys were fashioned in custom outfits made by a very select group of talented ladies. NASA standards pushed the limits of not only the equipment that was used at the ILC, but the limits of the seamstresses’ technique. There was less than a sixty-forth of an inch tolerance in only one direction of the seam, a sixty-forth of an inch is smaller than the average needles’ eye. While this required unprecedented precision, the seamstresses were not allowed traditional tools to help with their accuracy such as pins and other temporary fasteners for fear that they could be forgotten to be removed upon completion.

handmade - apollo astroanut -NASA-seamstress3

An Apollo space suit is approximately 3/16” thick and comprised of twenty-one layers of material. The most talented seamstresses could sew these multiple layers of challenging and hair thin fabrics such as latex, Mylar, Dacron and Kapton with only her fingertips to guide her construction.

Each Apollo mission required at least 15 suits to support the mission. Each member of the three part crew has three suits custom tailored to their exact measurement – there was one respectively created for flight, training and as a flight back-up. In addition, there was a three man back up crew that each had two suits constructed for them.

The above two factors makes the effort seem daunting. Even more so, the astronaut corps during the Apollo era was comprised of between 25 and 27 astronauts. It only seems fitting that the most iconic images of the space exploration, that of Buzz, Neil and the gang bouncing on lunar soil in their marshmallow white couture suits, are an exemplary showcase of craftsmanship.

June 01 2013


Space Suit of the Week: The International Space Orchestra

international space orchestra2

The International Space Orchestra is the self proclaimed first orchestra of space scientists. Based at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA – the “planet-poking and bluegrass-playing” group is comprised of science nerds from Ames, SETI, Singularity University and the International Space University.

The ensemble recently performed a stage opera inspired by control rooms that was set in front of the world’s largest win tunnel, 40 x 80 foot tunnel of the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex. This performance was the climax of the above documentary which premiered earlier this year at the Rotterdam Film Festival.

Int’l Space Orchestra is not the the first musical ensemble to come out of NASA’s gates. Johnson Space Center is home to Max Q, the astronaut rock band. There is a great number of musician astronauts that have performed from the ISS- most notably Chris Hatfield and Cady Coleman.

Via domus

May 24 2013


Space Suit of the Week – SMATIK’s Dead Astronauts

dead astronauts - SMATIK - andre ljosaj

There is a wonderful scene in WALL-E of the spaceship Axion re-entering Earth’s polluted and desolate atmosphere; space waste is littering the planetary field surrounding the pale blue dot and suffocating it. Immediately seeing SMATIK’s Dead Astronaut wallpaper, I remembered this scene with great clarity.

There is currently 19,000 pieces of debris larger than 5cm and another 300,000 pieces smaller than 1cm that is hovering around our homeland. Space junk consists of a wide range of material left behind from the quest of space exploration – spent rockets, old satellites, etc. This growing beehive of debris that may collide with operational spacecrafts and other bodies.

I love the detail in SMATIK astronauts floating in dead orbit. The repetitive figure’s eye balls fixed upwards towards the sky – as if they saw their death coming.

dead astronauts - SMATIK - andre ljosaj 2

André SMATIK Ljosaj is a graphic designer specializing in static, motion and interactive work.  He created this wallpaper for Dead Astronauts - an electronic duo comprised of Seattle-based Jared Nickerson and Toronto-based Hayley Stewart. Like TFIB, Dead Astronaut have their own Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring various graphic designers and contributors from around the globe.

dead astronauts - SMATIK - andre ljosaj 4

May 10 2013


Space Suit of the Week: The Loopy Lunar Eyes of Paul McCartney

richard avedon - paul mccartney - 1965 - harpers bazaar

Forget British Invasion – this songwriting superstar’s sights are higher. No wonder The Beatles set the standard for crazy obsessed teenage fans. If Paul McCartney’s puppy eyes can’t melt the icy surface of Europa – I don’t know what can.

McCartney’s portrait was shot in 1965 for Harper’s Baazar by Richard Avedon – this same issue featured Jean Shrimpton as a Mod astronaut on its cover. The issue was complied to be a guidebook to the cultural now.

richard avedon - paul mccartney - 1965 - harpers bazaar 2

I like to think of Paul McCartney and the rest of his gang enjoyed intergalactic fame akin to that of the Apollo boys during the sixties. Our American boys claimed lunar soil; the Brits claimed popular culture’s consciousness.

This portrait coincides with the release of The Beatles’ record Help! - Help! was written by Lennon to describe the anxiety associated with the quick rise to fame. Avedon’s choice to take McCartney’s portrait in a space suit is quite fitting – he is protected from the industry, from the world. I could imagine many a girl bopping their head and serenading this portrait, “…Help me, get my feet back on the ground.”

April 26 2013


Space Suit of the Week: The Bleak Landscape Photos of Nick Bowers

Nick Bowers photos

Nick Bowers describes his work as an exploration between the natural and man-made; his statement reads, “His landscapes expose the paradox of grand oppressive spaces with their delicate and vulnerable details. His portraiture and still life series are revealing studies in intimacy.”

The harsh terrain, which I imagine to be somewhere in the outback of Bowers’ native Australia, is the protagonist of these shots. However harsh the landscapes might be, I don’t find them oppressive. Upon seeing Bowers’ shots, it reminded me of Death Valley and my impressions of it when I journeyed there for the first time – astonished that a terrian can be so brutal and rugged, but sweepingly beautiful as it holds so much potential for life. The Bowers’ astronauts pair extraordinary well with these enchanting landscapes as the sole visible objects of life amongst a sweeping red sea of rock.

Nick Bowers photos

Nick Bowers photos

April 19 2013


Space Suit of the Week: A giant, inflated space suit acts as a showcase for fashion and design

Mother Earth Sister Moon by Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski

Mother Earth Sister Moon by Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski

Polish born, New York based artists Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski realize fantasies of the future as imagined by the Communist Era Soviet Bloc in their Mother Earth Sister Moon installation. The installation takes form in a massive space suit replica of the Soviet Space Sweetheart – Valentina Tereshkova, the first lady in space. The belly of Valentina’s goliath galactic get-up serves as a home to a curated fashion and design showcase that weaves narratives of Soviet sci-fi and its space program. With the lens of architecture, music, fashion and style, the future in female dress forms are realized.

I’d like to teleport to Warsaw’s Zacheta National Gallery of Art see Mother Earth Sister Moon in the flesh. I’m not familiar Eastern Bloc sci-fi or its respective space race culture, but I’d like to think that it would reverberate with me. Just as we share one mother earth and one sister moon, we share fantasies of the future.

If you’re in Warsaw, the show runs until the 19th of May.

Mother Earth Sister Moon by Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski

Mother Earth Sister Moon by Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski

Mother Earth Sister Moon by Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski

Mother Earth Sister Moon by Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski

March 22 2013


Space Suit of the Week

SYMBOLS OF THE APOLLO X LM CREW - Snoopy - Charles Schulz - Stafford Cernan

During stressful launches, NASA’s jet Propulsion Laboratory mission control eats handfuls of peanuts for good luck. Peanuts have been a part of space exploration for a long time. A dedicated reader passed along the above Peanuts Snoopy astronaut action figure: Snoopy was the NASA Manned Flight Awareness Program mascot (with the blessing of Peanuts creator Charles Schultz) and spoke out for flight safety. NASA even awards a “Silver Snoopy Award” to employees and contractors for outstanding human flight safety achievements.

Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan of Apollo X named their Lunar Module (LM) Snoopy. The Command Service Module was named Charlie Brown.

Apollo X-Snoopy-Stafford

The Apollo X mission was launched on May 18, 1969 and the mission was considered a dress rehearsal for the XI lunar landing later that year. Above, Mission Commander Stafford taps Snoopy’s nose for good luck.

This most lovable cartoon pup will always be a part of space exploration. Today a Snoopy statue sits in Kennedy Space Center’s Rocket Garden. The statue was donated by the Schulz family in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Space Agency.

Pups will always have their place in space exploration. The first earthling to orbit the home planet was Laika, the first of many Soviet space dogs. Additionally, my all-time favorite NASA crew patch is for STS-69 Mission: Dog Crew II. The crew had previously flown together on STS-53, the final space shuttle dedicated to the Department of Defense flight, and had named themselves the “dogs of war.” For STS-69, each crew member was assigned a “dog tag”: Commander David Walker – Red Dog; James Voss – Dogface; Ken Cockrell – Cujo; Michael  Gernhardt – Under Dog; and James Newman – Pluto. The Dog Crew II patch features a bulldog peering out from a doghouse shaped like the Space Shuttle. They even ate their pre-launch breakfast out of dog bowls.

sts69- dog crew II - space shuttle

Who let the dogs out?

August 27 2012

RIP Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon, died over the weekend at the age of 82. At 02:39 UTC on Monday July 21, 1969, Armstrong opened the hatch, and at 02:51 UTC began his descent to the lunar surface. The Remote Control Unit controls on his chest kept him from seeing his [...]

August 17 2012

Space Thing of the Week
Atlantis Space Shuttle
Yesterday, two space shuttles kissed goodbye as Atlantis and Endeavor passed by each other for the last time. They are on the long the road to of preparation before they are ready for their new respective museum homes. The above footage is by Philip Scott Andrews (you may remember his photographs that we shared a while [...]

August 10 2012

Space Suit of the Week
It is really a strong smell. It has that taste–to me, gunpowder–and the smell of gunpowder, too. —Charlie Duke, Apollo 16 astronaut, 1972 We have seen the moon. Images have been beamed home of the moon’s landscape and of the Apollo boys dancing on top of the lunar surface. There are moon rocks to touch. [...]

August 03 2012


Space Suit of the Week

Space Suit of the Week

“Star command, come in. Do you read me?”

This past week NASA has unveiled its latest prototype spacesuit, behold the Z-1 [pdf]. This is the first suit that has been developed by NASA since the creation of the Extravehicular Mobility Unit in 1992, the suit that is worn on spacewalks on the International Space Station. There’s been some buzz of how Z-1 has an uncanny visual similarity to our favorite space ranger, Buzz Lightgear. Who wouldn’t want to model a spacesuit after loyal and romantic intergalactic hero? (Side note: Buzz Lightgear is named after the 2nd man on the moon Buzz Aldrin. The MTV Music Video Moon Man is also modeled after Colonel Aldrin.)

The Z-1 prototype spacesuit is designed to brave the next stages of space exploration. That next stage is a little unclear at the moment therefore the Z-1 prototype is designed to be extremely versatile. Mary Beth Griggs of Popular Mechanics’s wonderfully breaks down the suit:

Astronauts step into the full suit through the back port. This port will mate with the spacecraft, enabling an astronaut to enter the suit from inside the craft for extravehicular activity. Another advantage: When used in low to no atmosphere, the port conserves more air than a conventional air lock.

The Z-1 has bearings at the waist, hips, upper legs, and ankles to allow an astronaut greater mobility–essential for retrieving soil and rock samples in tough terrain.

This provisional outer covering conceals a heavily engineered inner suit; a layer of urethane-coated nylon retains air, and a polyester layer allows the suit to hold its shape.

The pants of the suit look like those combination pants/shorts that tourists find convenient to wear–the ones with zippers at the knees. I almost want to throw a camera around his neck and tell him don’t forget to write. The suit is currently undergoing heavy testing at NASA Johnson Space Center and is being prepared for possible human exploration of the Moon, near earth asteroids or Mars. I’ll have Buzz Lightgear-like visions dancing in my head come Sunday as the Mars Science Laboratory Rover (commonly known as Curiosity) lands on Martian soil. Curiosity is twice as long, five times as heavy and equipped with more instrumentation than any other Rover that has been sent to the surface of Mars. It is collecting data for future manned missions to the red planet. To infinity…and beyond!

July 27 2012


Space Suit of the Week

Space Suit of the Week

What does it take to be an Olympian? You must train every day. You must meticulously watch your consumption. You have troops of individuals coaching you for years. As an Olympian, the acceptable margin of error is so minute – milliseconds and millimeters are the measures of success or failure. Your accomplishments are glorified and you are a national hero. Such is the same with an astronaut.

When our boys were sent to the moon, they were sporting an intergalactic Varsity uniform. The footage above, put together by Kasia Cieplak von-Baldegg of Atlantic Magazine from the Special Collections & Archives of George Mason University Library, showcases various Space Suit tests for the Apollo Mission. The suit chosen for the expedition is shown on a high school football field throwing the pigskin, you can overhear the panelists say, “The Redskins could use him.”

June 15 2012

Space Suit of the Week
Spacesuit - Andrew G. Hobbs
Emerging from a void, Andrew G. Hobbs‘ hallowed portrait of an astronaut is striking. Looking over the many space suits that we have put up here over time, most are the Luke Skywalker types in their white, pillowy Apollo suits that embody the epitome of the hero archetype – full of wholesome goodness and hope. Hobbs’ astronaut [...]

June 01 2012

Space Suit of the Week
Ulan Ude's Cosmonaut Mosaic
I have a deep affinity for airports. I grew up in San Diego, flying out of Lindbergh Field where the Lucky Lindy aviator has a massive mural dedicated to his honor. If you’re lucky enough to claim your bags from Terminal Two, you’ll find a lifesize model of The Spirit of Saint Louis hovering above. [...]

March 30 2012


Space Suit of the Week

Space Suit of the Week - Lado Alexi

Space Suit of the Week - Lado Alexi

Space Suit of the Week - Lado Alexi

The photos of Lado Alexi are filled with sexy, fashionable people, but clearly he also has a soft spot for space suits. He took the spacesuit, something that’s decidedly not sexy, something made for protecting the human body from the extreme temperatures and vacuum of space, and turns it into something mysterious and sensual. The model almost appears to be protecting herself with the suit, the last photo looking like she’s preparing to suit up. The colors are also pretty fantastic, they almost look like something from an old pulp comic book. Be sure to check out the rest of his work as well, he’s got a great eye.


March 23 2012


Space Suit of the Week

I thought I would pass along this little gemstone that I stumbled across on Tumblr. I am really digging on Kyle Jones’ Space Cadet – and the rest of his work for that matter! His work reminds me of something straight outta Hanna-Barbera Productions circa the 1960s. I am particularly fond of the marshmallow clouds against the red horizon. I still can’t place the green rabbit friend of the cadet, but if this what the future looks like, I’m really excited.


March 16 2012


Space Suit of the Week

Spacesuit by Jonathan Andrew Taylor

Spacesuit by Jonathan Andrew Taylor

Bobby passed along these drawings to me by Jonathan Andrew Taylor. I may be mistaken, but I believe the top image was inspired by Hubert Vykukal’s AX-3 experiment suit (which Alex wrote about a while back). The AX hard body suits were heralded because they gave the body almost complete range of motion; an astronaut could move into something like 95% of the body positions that they could if they were in the buff. Although, Taylor’s drawings make the suit seem rather limiting with the astronaut barely capable of peaking over the bottom of his helmet. I’m fond of the tri-color palette that Taylor employs. Striping the suit of its standard patriotic colors, he recasts the image into another a sphere. It’s as if Taylor’s astronauts have complete range of motion in capturing a child-like pursuit imagination.


March 09 2012


Space Suit of the Week

Space Suit of the Week - Stan Gaz

Space Suit of the Week - Stan Gaz

Stan Gaz’s series Ensnared – Astronauts and Butterflies, explores the themes of “loss, memory, transition, and transformation.” His images depict archetypes of the hunter and the hunted, though it’s hard to tell which figures are really trapped. Is it the astronaut in his white, sterile suit or the delicate butterfly? Seeing this series made me think of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir The Diving Bell & the Butterfly. Bauby, physically crippled by locked-in syndrome,  uses the extended allusion of the diving bell (much like a space suit) to illustrate his oppressive state and still his mind is able to take flight like a butterfly. In Gaz’s artist statement, he states,  ”The roles can be oddly interchangeable, caught up in a cycle in which each is trapped by the other—where neither is ever free of the other’s influence, but nevertheless transformation still takes place.”


February 17 2012


Space Suit of the Week

Bitter American Seasonal Ale

Bitter American Seasonal Ale

Seems like the news is full of bitter Americans, though Ham the Chimpanzee, the first chimpanzee launched into outer space in 1961, has to be one of the most bitter in history. British artist Joe Wilson produced the above package design for San Francisco based brewery 21st Amendment’s Bitter American Seasonal Ale. It’s a nice, cheeky alternative to traditional alcoholic product packaging which can sometimes take itself too seriously. I know what I’ll be grabbing next time I pop down to the corner store.


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