Space Messengers

Space Messengers: An immersive and educational sci-art experience

 Festival Internacional de Ciência
October 15-17, 2021 (7:30- 10:30pmGMT)
Palacio do Marques de Pombal

STEMarts Lab is excited to present, Space Messengers, a traveling immersive and educational sci-art installation that projects the collective ‘space’ messages and voices of youth participants sharing their thoughts and wishes for a sustainable interplanetary future. Using data visualization tools, the messages will be live mixed and projected along with their animated silhouettes onto the courtyard walls of the Palacio do Marques de Pombal for the Festival Internacional de Ciencia (FICA) event. An immersive soundscape of collected natural sounds from earth and space will fill the courtyard. The live audience can also send their own space messages in real time; What message of hope would you like to share with the next generation? These messages become part of a permanent data bank that travels from city to city, radiating messages of hope to and from our future youth leaders.

We are living in an extraordinary time for scientific and technological advancements that are expanding our understanding of the universe. At the same time we are faced with the challenges of climate change and species extinction. We collaborate with youth around the world to raise awareness to the importance of scientific literacy and the ethical impacts of new technologies on nature and society. Exploring at the intersection of the arts, humanities and philosophy with science and technology we contemplate and re-imagine our humanity.

Space Messengers is part of the BioSTEAM International youth exchange program in partnership with the U.S Embassy of Portugal and the U.S. Consulate General of Guadalajara. This virtual collaboration connects middle/high school classrooms in New Mexico, USA with classrooms in Lisbon, Portugal and Guadalajara, Mexico (more countries to be added) through this shared sci-art installation that will tour around the world to encourage ambassadorship skills, intercultural respect, creative expression and scientific literacy. Experts in the field of astrophysics, particle physics, space science, philosophy of science and native science contribute their knowledge through the youth workshops and online curriculum tool. Using a custom-designed platform we call the Space Board, students co-write messages communicating the science they learned and sharing their thoughts and wishes for a sustainable interplanetary future. These messages are seen floating on the wall along with interactive video-captured silhouettes of the students. Our goal is to raise awareness to the importance of artistic, scientific and humanistic literacy to inspire our youth to become more informed and compassionate global citizens.

How to participate

As a Mixed Reality (MR) installation, created in response to the pandemic restrictions, we are providing three ways for participants to interact with Space Messengers during the live event.

1) Visiting the FICA installation in person.  Participants on site can enter the ‘interactive zone’ in the courtyard to interact with a silhouette. Creating movement with their bodies activates the silhouette to reveal video clips from the Space Messengers youth workshop, revealing fleeting thoughts of the students and the scientists and cultural experts that participated. The audience in the courtyard can also read the space messages written by students sharing the science they learned and expressing their thoughts and wishes for a sustainable interplanetary world. The live audience can use SMS, WhatsApp on their devices or visit www.spacemessengers.com (during event) to send their own space messages to our future youth leaders in response to what they are seeing and hearing. These messages appear on the wall in front of them and become part of a permanent data bank that travels from city to city, radiating messages of hope to and from our future youth leaders.

2) From your device at home or wherever you are. Visit the Space Messengers event page on October 15-17, 2021 from 7:30pm- 10:30pm GMT. The livestream from the projection in Portugal will be seen on your screen. Below it are the scrolling messages that are currently being projected on the wall in Portugal in real time. Participants can type in their space message directly into a text field, and their message will be added to the live projection and also become part of the Space Messengers future data bank.

3. A Virtual Reality Platform. On Friday night, we are setting up two virtual reality stations with Oculus headsets that allow the students in Portugal and Taos, and site visitors, to take turns entering the virtual simulation of the Palacio do Marques de Pombal courtyard.  Using the Sansar platform, participants become avatars in the virtual space and can interact with each other as they explore the livestream of the event in the virtual space. The locations for the VR stations are: Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, New Mexico and the Palacio do Marques de Pombal, Oeiras, Portugal. On Saturday and Sunday night only, we will make the VR platform public for 18 and older. Anyone that has a PC at home that meets the Sansar system requirements, can enter the VR space during the FICA event to experience the Space Messengers installation from home. You can use your keyboard to move your Avatar, and do not need a VR headset. It is free to register on the Sansar platform.

Space Messengers is made possible in part by the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund for U.S. Alumni; an opportunity sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by Partners of the Americas. Thanks also to our sponsors at the U.S. Embassy of Portugal, General Consulate of Guadalajara, Taos Community Foundation, LANL Foundation, NMArts and the MAE Foundation.

Space Messengers was created by the Projecting Particles Collective:

Creative Director/Artist: Agnes Chavez

Lead Artist/Projection team: Markus Dorninger/OMAi

Sound design: David Novack with Joao Espada

Creative Coding/Artist: Roy McDonald

VR Platform design: Mathieu Castel

Interdisciplinary speakers/facilitators: Dr. Steven Goldfarb, University of Melbourne on the ATLAS Experiment at CERN; Dr. Nicole Lloyd-Ronning, LANL astrophysicist; Steve Tamayo, Lakota Cultural Specialist; Dr. Catarina Pombo Nabais, Philosophy of Science/University of Lisbon; Frank Tavares, NASA Communication Specialist; Michelle Hanlon, Founder/Director, For all Moonkind

Videography: Malu Tavares; Curriculum  Advisors: Shane Wood, Quarknet staff; Dr. Greg Cajete, Native-American Author/cultural specialist. Visual Program Designer: Estacia Huddleston. Multi-media/Tech development and support: OMAi/Tagtool team/Josef Dorninger and Matthias Fritz;  Enrico Trujillo, University of New Mexico (VR Youth Day). STEAM Ambassadors: Dania Loya, New Mexico; Joana D’Arc Moreira, Brazil; Amina Abdrazakova, Canada; Amelia Martinez and Elsie Clayton, Taos New Mexico.

Participating schools: Escola Secundária Sebastião e Silva: Profesora Ana Carvalho, Profesora, Cristina Pinho. Taos Integrated School of the Arts: Sally Greywolf, Alison Haney

STEMarts is a 501(c)3 based in Taos, New Mexico