Artist wins residency at ESA’s technical heart


24/11/2021 195 views 12 likes

Dutch visual artist and filmmaker Anna Hoetjes is the winner of the Mission: Art-Space Exchange research residency at the European Space Agency. During her residency, Anna will spend two months with space science researchers at the European Space Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the largest ESA establishment and hub of European space projects.

Anna Hoetjes

The residency includes a partnership with Science Gallery Rotterdam to run two workshops with young adults (15-25 years of age) in the Rotterdam area, as well as opportunities for dialogue with biomedical researchers of the Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam (Erasmus MC). The residency’s aim is to bridge art, science, and society in the field of space science by providing opportunities for people from these different communities to share perspectives, practices, and questions on themes of common interest.

Anna’s artistic practice is focused on investigating how seeing and been seen in a technologically-mediated world has evolved over the years, drawing parallels between early 20th century history and technological developments today.

During her residency, Anna will explore concepts that lie at the heart of her art, especially in the context of spectroscopy – the study of the interaction of matter with light across the electromagnetic radiation. Spectroscopy is a vital component of space exploration and she will also have an opportunity to explore its use in medical research at the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam.


Anna comments: “I am thrilled to start working with scientists at ESTEC around themes so central to my art practice, like colour, diffraction, and multiplication. My aim is to re-imagine the history of space science as one that is more inclusive and diverse. At ESTEC, I hope to get a deep understanding of the hardware and software that are used in space spectroscopy today, and discuss with scientists how techniques can be applied to develop an immersive optical installation.”

In her work, Anna often translates scientific datasets into tangible objects or animations, for example, by transforming chemical processes into ceramics, or by translating optical processes into light-based pieces. She combines art with audio, bringing together her extensive research into the history of science, scientific processes, and the interaction between imagination and technological developments, as well as engaging in an inquiry into the impact of space science and technology from a multitude of perspectives.

Eyes in the Sky

Mark McCaughrean, ESA’s Senior Advisor for Science & Exploration, says: “We’re delighted by the response to our new art-science project and excited to meet and work with Anna, alongside our colleagues from Science Gallery Rotterdam and Erasmus MC. It’s more important than ever that science be seen as a central aspect of society and culture, and artists of all kinds have a vital role to play in communicating often complex concepts in accessible and thought-provoking ways. And conversely, they can help scientists see their work in wider, more diverse, and representative contexts, a vital piece in the puzzle of solving some of the huge challenges that face humankind today.”

“Scientific disciplines, art and society can learn from each other by entering into dialogue and co-creation,” says Fred Balvert, director of Science Gallery Rotterdam. “Anna’s rich work bridges high-tech imaging techniques and basic human experience. Science Gallery Rotterdam is proud to be collaborating with ESA on this residency and to invite young people to be part of this exciting project.” 

Aphrodite Terra

Mission: Art-Space Exchange is a pilot project for an ArtScience programme in the space science domain at ESA. To account for restrictions on international travel arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the residency this year was only open to artists resident in The Netherlands. The organisers intend for future editions of the residency to be open to international participation.

To learn more about the Mission: Art-Space Exchange research residency click here.

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