Since the early 1970s we have sent robotic explorers into space to study the solar system. Carrying arrays of sensors they measure and define the characteristics of interplanetary and interstellar space. In the science fiction utopia of the 1970s we hoped that by now we would be regularly visiting the Moon, have bases on Mars and would know of other lifeforms. Astrobiology is based on a more pragmatic realisation, and proposes that we are more likely to find life, or evidence of life, closer to microbes than to ourselves.
DEEP DATA Prototype 1 forms the first stage of the Deep Data project, using data from space probes to recreate elements of the solar system environment within cultures of organisms currently used in astrobiology. Thus the project simulates a DIY astrobiological laboratory.
DEEP DATA Prototype 1 uses magnetometer data from the Pioneer and Voyager probes to recreate magnetic field experiments on cultures of tardigrades. Tardigrades are becoming one of the most important organisms in space bioscience as they are polyextremophiles and can enter suspended animation for long periods of time. Following an accelerated timeline the tardigrades experience the intense magnetic fields of the four gas giant planets and the more subtle and complex ones at the very edge of our solar system.
The installation consists of a microscope and custom designed culture vessel for tardigardes which also houses electromagnets. Two flat monitors display the incoming data and the live video of the tardigardes with superimposed magnetic field lines as they experience the shifting magnetic fields.
Andy Gracie works across various disciplines including installation, robotics, sound, video and biological practice. This work is situated between the arts and the sciences, creating situations of exchange between natural and artificial systems which allow new emergent behaviours to develop. More recently his work has begun to reflect cultural associations with the science of astrobiology.
He has exhibited across Europe as well as the USA, Japan, Mexico and Australia including several specific commissions for new works. He has also exhibited at ISEA, Artbots, Radar, Ars Electronica and at the Capital of Culture robotic exhibitions as part of Lille2004.
He has presented at numerous conferences and seminars internationally, has written and published a number of articles and papers, and his work has been featured in books by Stephen Wilson and Dmitry Bulatov.
His work has received honourable mentions from VIDA (2007) and Ars Electronica (2007).