Lucy McRae to vacuum-pack exhibition visitors to "prep the body to go to space"

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers: artist Lucy McRae explains how she plans to vacuum-pack visitors at the Dezeen and MINI Frontiers exhibition in September to prepare their body for long-haul space travel.

Lucy McRae preparing the human body for space travel
Concept image for McRae's installation

"I'm keen on exploring how the body could start changing in order to withstand long periods of time and space," McRae explains. "That's what this project is looking at - it's prepping the body to go to space."

Lucy McRae preparing the human body for space travel
Concept image for McRae's installation

McRae's installation will consist of a series of pods, which visitors will be invited to step inside to prepare their bodies for the rigours of a zero-gravity environment.

"I'm planning to create a cinematic experience, but you'll be able to become one of the characters in the film," McRae says. "Astronauts that come back to earth suffer an extreme osteoporosis because there's no gravity for bones. So the idea is you get under these golden aerated cocoons and slowly the air is sucked out of these pockets so it's just hugging your body from every kind of angle."

She adds: "The experience for everyone is going to be completely different, but in my experience it's very calming."

Lucy McRae preparing the human body for space travel
Sketch for McRae's installation

McRae was inspired by the discovery that NASA employs artists to imagine future science fiction scenarios in order to speed up the development of their technology and space travel programmes.

"This project was triggered by two conversations with two independent people from NASA who talked about the importance of telling stories 100 years from now and how storytelling propagates innovation," she explains. "I met a guy who is an artist who is working at NASA in the jet propulsion lab. So already artists are working with NASA missions to speed up the way that they're evolving."

McRae, who describes herself as a "body architect", has worked on similar projects that look at how advances in technology could modify our bodies.

"What I do is looking at how technology could or will transform the body in the future," she explains. "One example is a swallowable perfume that I invented [see movie above]. It is a cosmetic pill that you digest and when you perspire the fragrance comes through the skin surface. I was looking at how in the future we'll be able to re-programme biology."

In another project, a short film called Make Your Maker (above), McRae imagines a future where human clones are genetically engineered to be edible.

"It started with the premise that food and the body are inseparable," she explains. "There was a woman who was mixing body parts as if she was a chef. It's looking at how in the future we will absorb technology from the inside out and enhance our senses by eating ourselves."

Lucy McRae portrait
Lucy McRae

The Dezeen and MINI Frontiers exhibition will take place at designjunction during London Design Festival from 17 to 20 September 2014.

The music featured in the movie is a track called Contemphasic by Bankcee. You can listen to more original music on Dezeen Music Project.

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers is a year-long collaboration with MINI exploring how design and technology are coming together to shape the future.

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers