Lucy McRae experiments with negative pressure to "prep humans to go to space"

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers: artist Lucy McRae shows us the experiments she's been doing with emergency blankets and vacuum cleaners in our second behind-the-scenes preview of next week's Dezeen and MINI Frontiers exhibition.

Prepping the body for Space by Lucy McRae
Sketch by Lucy McRae

McRae's piece for the exhibition is a speculative vacuum chamber designed to prepare the human body for long-distance space travel.

Interplanetary travel will become common, McRae believes, but first we need to develop ways of helping the body withstand the rigours of zero gravity during lengthy journeys through space.

Prepping the body for Space by Lucy McRae
McRae's mission statement

"NASA has been developing these lower body negative pressure devices used to increase bloodflow [and] reduce hypertension," she explains. "There are all these different body improvements happening through pressure around the body. So I'm letting that medical or science story give me the leads for how to develop my concept."

Prepping the body for Space by Lucy McRae
McRae vacuum-packing herself

McRae has been working out the best way to create her installation by vacuum-packing herself in different plastic membranes, including the emergency blankets that are often used by marathon runners after a race.

"The material kind of drips off the body like a metal, which is weirdly beautiful," McRae says. "I like the fact that you're kind of getting into a surface or a wall, so I'd like to play around with creating a huge big membrane that people can get inside of."

Prepping the body for Space by Lucy McRae
McRae testing a foetal Doppler for her installation

McRae also wants to enhance people's senses while they are in the chamber and has been experimenting with a foetal Doppler, used to detect a baby's heartbeat when it's in the womb.

"I want to create this feeling of pressure around the skin but then also amplify the senses of the people inside," she says. "I have no idea how I'm going to do that yet. But this [Doppler] is my new toy."

Lucy McRae
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