London Design Festival 2014: a vacuum chamber that wraps performers in silver foil material forms the centrepiece for an installation by Lucy McRae that imagines a future where space travel is common but requires physical preparation (+ slideshow).
London designer Lucy McRae created an installation that transforms the idea of preparing for space travel into a performative event, as part of the Dezeen and MINI Frontiers: future of mobility exhibition.
Responding to the exhibition brief, McRae envisaged a future where interplanetary travel is common place, but travellers need to train their bodies before experiencing environments with no gravity.
During her research, McRae investigated technologies that have been used by NASA since the 1960s to investigate improving blood flow in astronauts.
"NASA has been developing these lower body negative pressure devices used to increase bloodflow [and] reduce hypertension," explained McRae. "There are all these different body improvements happening through pressure around the body."
NASA's negative pressure device, developed in the 1960s, creates a vacuum around the body to remove lactic acid from muscles and metabolic waste from the lymph system as capillaries dilate and fresh oxygen is sent to cells.
McRae's visual representation of a training system using similar technologies was created in two parts.
In the first, a performer lies on a flat bed wrapped in a foil bag with only their head exposed. Air is slowly drawn out of the bag using a vacuum, creating a skin-tight plastic membrane that hugs the body.
A chamber created using a frame wrapped in the same plastic foil with an opening at one end forms the other element.
Performers walk into the chamber before the air is sucked out, creating a relief effect that changes as they move. McRae described the effect as a "huge membrane that people can get inside of".
McRae said the project, called Prepping the Body for Space V.01, would be the first in a number of experiments on the same subject.
Prepping the Body for Space V.01 is on display at designjunction, which concludes tomorrow at The Sorting Office, 21-31 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1BA.