Cat in Zero Gravity

Lyn Hagan

28 June 2008

Vídeo, 24’ 42’’ (colour, mute). Courtesy of the artist

In 2003, The Arts Catalyst, an organisation that promotes artistic projects that critically engage with science, launched an open call inviting artists to explore the visual possibilities of using zero gravity. In 2008, following five years of work and having secured additional external sponsorship, a group of artists travelled to Moscow to use the facilities at Star City, an education and training hub for astronauts, where they live with their families.
The selected artists were to embark on a real flight that would leave the earth’s gravity behind. Each of them had carefully prepared the experiment they were going to carry out. The three artists who boarded the ship knew that their experiments could fail if they did, because they themselves would also be subject to zero gravity. In the case of Lyn Hagan (Gateshead, Great Britain, 1977), failure would mean being unable to film the cat as she intended to, because she herself would be subject to the same effects as the animal. Any small accident could annul the documentation of the process.
Lyn Hagan, an artist who carries out her artistic research in extreme locations, made Cat in Zero Gravity in 2008, at the Yuri Gagarin space training centre in Moscow. In the film, she shows us the behaviour of a cat subjected to zero gravity. After the experiment, Lyn Hagan returned the cat to the Moscow pet store where she had bought it, and there are no signs that the cat’s health suffered any subsequent ill effects. In the film, Lyn Hagan explores the classic image of a mouse chased by a cat that we are all familiar with from cartoons. The impact of the lack of gravity on the cat’s small body makes it turn in a spiral, with its legs and tail spread out and its hair on end, like an animal in free fall. It can make us laugh, but also feel slightly uneasy. The aim of the artist was to confirm whether the feline instinct remains in the absence of gravity. Lyn Hagan is attracted to chaos and possible representations of it. She is interested in a theatrical quality that she seeks outside the usual theatre stages and using highly unusual actors.
Hagan is currently working on the possibility of producing and filming a choreography that would be carried out by a robot on the surface of Mars.