By Andy Franzkowiak and Mary Jane Edwards, Founders of Shrinking Space

As part of the British Science Festival this year, Shrinking Space presented Mind’s Eye, an audio tour of all the active missions in the solar system. In celebration of World Space Week, Andy and Mary Jane share the inspiration behind their installation. 

This blog is part of our series of space blogs for World Space Week; Explore the evolution of spacesuits, hear the soundtrack for space exploration and uncover what the discovery of flowing water on Mars means for future missions.

Mind’s Eye was born out of several conversations we’d had about always being so in awe of the day-to-day work of scientists and engineers we meet. It’s obviously not possible for every discovery or incremental progress to be ‘news worthy’ and reach the public domain but we were keen to find a way to share these developments with a wider audience.

We’ve tried to comprehend how we came to have a collection of metal probes hurtling at breakneck speeds millions of miles away accompanying, flying to, or from, celestial bodies!  So far we have interviewed thirteen scientists and engineers about ten active missions, but hope to continue and cover new ones as they come online. There is over two hours worth of audio content within the installation, but you can stay for as little or as long as you like. The space is set up on a radio frequency with each mission on a different transmitter so audiences oscillate between voices as if they are traveling through deep, dark space seeking out the next encounter. 

The stellar adventure begins with German physicist and former astronaut, Gerhard Thiele recalling his visceral experience of leaving Earth, ‘the rocket really rockets’, with each audience member going on to discover an array of information detailing how scientists are piecing together our galactic neighbourhood. We’re also interested in how analogue and digital technology can work in parallel and are collaborating with beacon technology experts, Dot3, to add an immersive visual layer and further embed ourselves in each physical location, providing more detailed factual and cultural references.

Audiences have been really keen to talk about each mission they have discovered, especially those that have captured the public imagination in recent months - from Philae landing on Rosetta, to New Horizons’ Pluto flyby, and finding water on Mars. After listening to Dr Ed Stone people also often find our far-reaching adventures into interstellar space with Voyager mind-boggling, “it’s like loads of episodes of Horizon at the same time” – one participant told us.

We hope Mind’s Eye inspires audiences to contemplate the bold intent of space science and engineering and question humanity’s role in space exploration – where will we go next…?

Shrinking Space

Shrinking Space curate and produce science and art projects. We like to make and profile work that encourages collaboration between science and creative arts, championing the respective sectors’ imagination, creativity and innovation.
Mind’s Eye has been made possible by support from the Arts Council England, Brighton Digital Festival, European Space Agency, NASA Goddard Space Centre and Little Atoms.


Mind’s Eye, the audio tour of all the active emissions in the solar system can be seen:

At-Bristol as part of World Space Week, 4-11 October 2015

Manchester Central Library as part of Manchester Science Festival, 22 – 31 October 2015

Celebrate World Space Week-  Take part in a space-themed CREST project or discover more about deep space with our space blog series.