Belgian artist Jasna Rokegem shared the exciting news with us this week; she is exhibiting at the NASA Space Center Houston, as part of the prestigious Bionic Me exhibition. Jasna first visited NASA back in November 2017 as a keynote speaker at the cross-industry innovation summit in Houston. She also visited different labs at NASA to discuss her idea with scientists working on the spacesuits.
Humanising Technology With NASA
Jasna is fascinated by space and the idea of having one unique garment which becomes a living organism on its own. She told me during a visit to her lab in Antwerp, Belgium in November 2019, that she imagines a garment being an extension of our bodies, creating a new way of human communication. “It will reshape our responses to our innermost feelings, a brand new dimension of interaction,” she told me during the private tour.
Working at the intersection of fashion, technology and science Jasna latest work is an emotional intelligent fashion piece called (RE)Connect. “If we’re to become a space-travelling people, we will have to consider the impact on our own emotions as well as on those we leave behind. Our mental health might become one of the most important pieces in making this a success”, said Jasna in this week’s press release. Adding, “Humanizing technology, will show the potential of using fashion tech for mental wellbeing, not only here on earth, but also in outer space”.
“If we’re to become a space-travelling people, we will have to consider the impact on our own emotions.”
Jasna views clothing as adding a new dimension of interaction and communication of self-expression. She told FashNerd.com: “I see many possible applications for human augmentation through fashion tech in mental well-being, not only here on earth, but also in outer space”. She continues: “If we’re to become a space-travelling people, we will have to consider the impact on our own emotions as well as for those we leave behind. Our mental health might become one of the most important pieces in making this a success.”
Exhibiting her work at the NASA Space Center in Houston is just the first step for the award-winning pioneer, who is interested in enhancing astronauts’ abilities with the benefits of technology. She believes that by integrating mental wellbeing as an integral part of spacesuits could be beneficial for the wearer, especially if they are a deep-space explorer. “It is unclear which mental health implications this will have, though it is evident that it will have a high impact on our mental well being”, says Jasna.
“There has been very little research and insights into the psychological, neurological and social problems this will cause, but depression, loneliness, anxiety and stress and interpersonal conflict will highly likely be part of the problems travellers will have to face”, she continues. Jasna’s progressive approach brings mental health to the forefront of design. “It is never the first thought when people are designing spacesuits. A functional suit is an objective, not whether it is capable of helping with the effects of space travel”, educates Jasna.
Exploring New Dimensions of Human Interaction
Coming up with a spacesuit that looks after the wearer’s needs beyond just keeping them alive, Jasna puts importance in integrating wellbeing functions into suits. She explains: “Imagine creating digital twins on earth, so we can learn and monitor all types of health effects and prep the space travel pioneers for all the physical and mental effects will be essential to help identify the most pressing issues before they become unsolvable”.
Jasna Rok lab is already looking at how they can apply technology and science to fashion so that they can explore new dimensions of human interaction. “We build prototypes to understand ourselves and others better, we create new concepts and inspire cross-industry innovation”, explained Jasna in a press release. By combining innovative fashion and cutting-edge technology, Jasna might be onto something. Looking forward to collaborating with technology partners globally, I think that Jasna’s vision will help NASA decision-makers see the benefits of her wellbeing solution for space travellers.