Homo Ludens: an analysis of play and performance during spaceflight to inspire the cultural sector to design for new modes of space and spatiality

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch

6 Citations (Scopus)


We recognise Astronauts as unique Homo Ludens and initiate the first taxonomy of the kinds of play and performance that has occurred in space. We use the lens of David Harvey's matrix that relates space (absolute, relative, relational), to Henri Lefebvre's tripartite spatial definition (experienced, conceptualised, lived spaces) to establish the relational qualities of play and performance over spaceflight time (pre-flight, in-flight, post-flight), and construct an initial understanding of interactions in space and spatiality terms. It is our hypotheses that play and performance along gravity-shift nodes of the spaceflight trajectory help frame Astronautical phenomena. Arguably, once spatiotemporal perceptions of the microgravity body are recognizably ruptured (Augenblick), then experienced in relation to the universe (Overview Effect) to reside with the individual as a lived experience (Bodily Memory), these can be recalled from bodily memory and used to inform the design of material play and representational performance experiences. By analysing the play and performance of Astronauts pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight we hope to inspire designers to search for clues about how we inhabit, navigate and design in space. This paper contributes a new way to conceptualise the nature of play and performance as a technology to design opportunities for bodily play in the microgravity environment of outer space as one adaptive strategy towards space habitation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication61th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2016)
EditorsSandra I. Ramirez Jimenez, Naomi Mathers
Place of PublicationAtlanta Georgia USA
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation (IAF)
Number of pages12
Volume14 of 17
ISBN (Print)9781510835825
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2016 - Guadalajara, Mexico
Duration: 26 Sept 201630 Sept 2016
Conference number: 67th


ConferenceInternational Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2016
Abbreviated titleIAC 2016
Internet address


  • Design
  • Human factors
  • Performance
  • Phenomenology
  • Play
  • Spaceflight

Cite this