The Purpose of Art and Artists Beyond Earth

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C. S. Cockell (2015), JBIS, 68, pp.376-382

Refcode: 2015.68.376
Keywords: Art, Moon, Mars, artists, space art

Abstract:
What purpose do art and artists have in the exploration and settlement of outer space? Drawing on insights from an exhibition on the role of artists in society held by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden, this paper discusses the role of art and artists on the space frontier. Their functions can be broadly split into a number of categories. The artist (and their art) may act as visionary, entrepreneur, as nucleation point for new academies and institutions, as normbreaker, as traveller and as a genius. All of these purposes can be identified in the influence of art on the Earth, but in space some of them take on particular importance and practical use. For example, the artist as a nucleation point for new types of cultural organisations and societies provides a basis for creating new institutions in environments where there are none. It is suggested that there are four new categories not elaborated in Stockholm, but which may prove important for space settlement: The artist as promoter of liberty, the artist as engineer, the artist as terrestrial historian and the artist as reminder of purpose. This paper demonstrates that art and artists are not a mere frivolous addition to societies struggling to survive in the extreme conditions of space. By identifying the roles of art and artists in space we will be better placed to use art as a mechanism to advance the successful exploration and settlement of this frontier.

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