A plastic sculpture shaped like a jagged donut now holds the title of first piece of art to be made in space. As abstract as it looks, the piece is a 3D waveform of a human laugh, captured through a project by Israeli contemporary artist, Eyal Gever. The specific laugh was selected from over 100,000 entries submitted through the #Laugh app, with the winning model beamed to a 3D printer aboard the International Space Station.
For the month of December, aspiring astronomical artists could download the #Laugh app, record their giggles and guffaws, and send in the resulting visual models, which Gever calls “Laugh Stars,” to be judged by the community. Anyone could look at and listen to the submitted stars and vote for their favorites, with one lucky chortler winning the chance for their piece to be 3D printed on the ISS, and released into space.
“We live in epic times, where continuous disruption and rapid change exists against a backdrop of extremely volatile cultural shifts constantly challenging our human conscience,” explains Gever. “A Laugh Star floating in space, above all our heads, is my attempt to create a contemporary metaphor for the hanging ‘Sword Of Damocles,’ a reminder that the beauty of human life is so fragile.”
Recorded by Naughtia Jane Stanko, the winning Laugh Star is called “Pool Play,” and it’s a strange, gargling sound that we’re not sure really represents the best of humanity’s jollies. Nevertheless, Gever loved it, telling Stanko in a Skype call that it has a narrative quality to it that people can relate to.
“To me, it’s the ultimate love letter to the universe,” Stanko says, describing what drew her to the project. “It’s the closest thing to God, in a sense. It’s the ultimate message, a top secret algorithmic message to the universe.”
If your eyes haven’t rolled right out of their sockets yet, #Laugh is essentially a frivolous publicity stunt for a pretty important piece of technology. Made In Space, the partner company on the project, launched the specially-designed 3D printer to the ISS last year, with the aim of allowing astronauts to 3D print replacement parts as they need them. Considering the costs of blasting supplies into space, as well as the wait times involved, the process could potentially save millions of dollars and free up rockets for more important cargo.
Gever, Stanko and Made In Space CTO Jason Dunn will showcase the Laugh Star at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas next month.
The laugh can be heard in the first video below, while the second video is a Skype call between the artist and the winner.