Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges
OUTSTATION #3 : 23rd July onwards at Flotation Tank in Newcastle.
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OUTSTATION #1 was a participatory event held between sunset and nightfall on the summer solstice 2018. Coleman and Hodges imagined an alternative history of the Soviet Space Program using the well-established Soviet technique of rewriting history to suit prevailing narratives.
A new department was inserted into The Yuri A. Gagarin State Scientific Research-and-Testing Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City near Moscow during the early years of the first Space Programme. From 1962 - 1967, led by the enigmatic Dr Gregor Kormarov, The Department of Deep Navigation researched the psychological aspects of space flight. From novel forms of navigation and experiments with theta brainwaves to the analysis of Cosmonauts dreams, the department explored the internal journeys that Cosmonauts were making and looked for the deeper drives beneath human’s need to explore beyond the horizon.
Archival research and anecdotal evidence has lead to the conclusion that there was extensive experimentation and research into altered states of consciousness and physical and philosophical exploration into the nature of time and space and the Jungian concept of the Collective Unconscious. It is hard to determine how much of this research was officially sanctioned and whether it contributed to the dissolution of the Department in 1967.
The following are Cosmonaut testimonies from the archives of The Department of Deep Navigation:
“Komarov would sometimes hold lectures at the beach. A surprising number of students would attend these classes – even the engineering students. He would stand with his stick and point saying ”There are two thresholds in this terrain not one. There is the threshold between the ocean and the land and between the ocean and the sky. Sailors have to negotiate the zone between the land and ocean, we, the pioneers of the Rocket Age must know how to negotiate between the ocean and the sky”
“He believed we were reaching the limits of language. Language had evolved to describe shared experiences – but what happens when the experiences are unique – like orbiting our home planet? He thought that by recognizing that our journeys were mythic and by creating new metaphors and allegories, that the space age could become comprehensible to the wider world. In his words…“Humanankind is evolving and Cosmonauts are at the very edge of that evolution. New archetypes are required to make sense of these changes”
“He was telling us of an experience he had as a young man by the Baltic. When he watched a fish swimming through fluorescing algae at night, he become aware that its journey is revealed by a history of its movements stretching out behind it in the glowing water. He said “You cannot separate the fish from its journey– is it not a good metaphor for our own journey through the world?”
“He could not fly himself but was always there at our debriefing after a flight; asking about our feelings, our dreams, our internal journeys. He always looked for meaning – others looked to the performance of machines”
“He thought we were entering a new technological age without sufficient poetry to sustain us. He believed that the poetic was needed alongside, or embedded in, the machine. He thought that mystery could live with science and so science should be able to live with the mysterious”