—LeFevre Space Oddity

On November 3rd, 2016, an odd demonstration took place outside Knowlton Hall at the Ohio State University. An 11-foot (in diameter) white sphere appeared, inhabited by Galo Canizares, in an all white space-suit. The make-shift spaceman then proceeded to spend 8 hours in the sphere, as it incrementally rolled to different spots around the patio outside the architecture school. At 5pm, he exited the “ship” and it was subsequently docked onto a base of mylar foil, reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Lander...

The project constitutes the first part of the 2016-17 Howard E. LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellowship research. It can be read in a number of different ways. On the one hand, it is a full-scale physical diagram of a canonicalization algorithm—the process by which two-dimensional images are mapped onto spherical surfaces, such as for virtual reality visualizations—and on the other, the sphere is a prototype for a domestic, gravity-less space in which all domestic functions are collapsed into one continuous interior surface. In both cases, the abstract nature of the sphere drives the programmatic order. The infinite quality of the interior, the closed system of the “bubble,” the nomadic potential of the docking mechanism, and the day-long performance all work together to suggest a narrative of a future yet-to-come.

If Superstudio proposed their “Supersurface” as an “alternate model for life on Earth,” the #LeFevreSpaceOddity puts forth a model for life outside Earth. But “outside” need not solely reflect the impulse to colonize outer space. On the contrary, virtual reality has enabled the public to inhabit other worlds concurrent with this reality. Therefore, the Space Oddity’s identity as a simulator engenders two new modes of domestic habitation: (1) life in virtual reality and (2) life in zero-gravity. But the two interpretations are, in fact, convergent streams thought. Both scenarios deal with an increasing awareness of the technologies of habitation and their attendant geometric orders. For example, would the program of a space change if you can access all six planes of a cube? How do you provide immersive simulation experiences that allow for complete freedom of mobility?