Facing the Abyss
The images that are reflected in the visor of a space-helmet present a god’s eye view of the world and everyone who inhabits it. In this way, the helmet is a reminder of the insignificance of the individual human wearer in contrast to the vastness of space. As a life-sustaining cocoon, the helmet is a reminder of human vulnerability – the astronaut is both posthuman and all-too-human. This presentation will introduce the helmet as a sign of Man’s conquest over our environment that also deflects attention away from Man and onto his environment. I will then travel through the visor and into the helmet to consider the phenomenology of helmet-wearing, contrasting the vast visual landscape of space with the close and compact aural landscape that is contained within. These experiences are adjacent to, but distinguishable from, the post-gravity experience of spacewear. I will consider how the helmet disjoints and relocates the senses, and blurs the boundaries between the interior and exterior of the wearer’s body.