Glitter, yoga, and sofas in the middle of a forest: it can only be Body&Soul.

Last month, the masses descended on Ballinlough Castle in Co Westmeath for a weekend festival celebration of the summer solstice. Along with acts like Jon Hopkins and Bitch Falcon, and Science Gallery Dublin’s very own Jenn Moore as Dreamcycles, this not-just-music festival celebrates wellbeing, food, art, and culture.

Among the art installations this year were bigger-than-life-size deer sculptures made from copper, a Buddhist sand mandala, and a hanging love-heart with the ‘I believe her’ mantra beside it. Tucked away in the forest, and sheltered from the searing heat, stood two installations from Science Gallery Dublin’s current exhibition, LIFE AT THE EDGES.

The Humanity Star hung proud amongst the trees, attracting the curious away from the beaten track. In line with the diverse festival micro-population, our visitors ranged from families with young children to tribes of lads with cans in hand, or glitter-clad gurlos exploiting the prime selfie opportunity that accompanies a reflective geodesic sphere. 

People were immediately mystified by this replica of what was essentially a giant disco ball (as one visitor put it) shot into space at the beginning of 2018. This innovative ‘space graffiti’ piece orbited our planet for two months, and could be seen moving across the night sky, flashing reflections of the suns light back to earth. Conversations arose surrounding the controversy that goes with shooting ‘junk’ into space; ‘out of sight out of mind’, ‘what goes up must come down’, and ‘ah, sure, we’re already screwed’ littered the visitors' responses (pardon the pun).

This note would bring us neatly on to the second installation in our miniature Science-on-tour Gallery: The Trash Map, created by Marte Teigen. This piece maps some of the man-made objects left on the moon during the moon space missions that took place between 1959 and 1972. Amongst them, 96 bags of human excrement, cameras, and other equipment that were ditched to lighten the load for return journeys. More hopeful items are letters from world leaders, left behind by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, as well as the cremated remains of Eugene Shoemaker. Realisations that human pollution had already spread to other celestial bodies struck home with many visitors, and reinforced the need for a change in attitude surrounding our waste management and creation.

Armed with headphones and mp3 players, Science Gallery Dublin mediators were able to further entice festival-goers into the theme of LIFE AT THE EDGES with the question: "Would you like to hear space?" — that's a slightly misleading question, since sound can’t actually travel through the vacuum of space, but the novelty provided a successful hook. These audio files were converted radio waves depicting, among others, lightning storms on Jupiter, space weather surrounding Earth, and Titan’s atmosphere. The sounds reminded many people of video games, Star Wars battles, or the deep ocean. One listener decided that there was indeed a whale in space.

If you are interested in checking out The Humanity Star, the Trash Map or the numerous other ‘pushing-the-limits’ installations currently on exhibit at Science Gallery Dublin, make sure to check out LIFE AT THE EDGES exhibition before it closes on 30 September.

Images: Simon Harper
Words: Fiona Waters 

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