Disaster Playground R&D

V&A-21st September 2013-London


A live roundtable/ brainstorming session at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, with world leading scientists in the field of potentially hazardous Near Earth Objects and Disaster Mitigation.


Where: V&A, Digital Design Week End as part of the London Design Festival, London

When: Saturday 21st September from 10:30 am to 5pm , Free public access_ Sculpture gallery.

What: See V&A Digital Design Week End  ,full programme HERE

WITH (all participants will be physically present at the roundtable):

*** David Morrison, Director of the Carl Sagan Center for Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute, former director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute, and senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute, Past Director of Space at NASA Ames, USA

*** Steve Miller, Professor of Science Communication and Planetary Science, UCL, UK

***Jonathan (Jay) Tate.  Director of the Spaceguard Centre, the Spaceguard Information Centre and the National Near Earth Objects Information Centre, UK

*** Richard Tremayne-Smith, Former head of Space Environment and International Relations at  the UK Space Agency (UKSA), UK

*** Gareth Collins, Senior Lecturer, Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Head of the  Impacts and Astromaterials Research Group at  Imperial College London, UK

*** Matt Linton, Incident Response Specialist, USA

***John Cumbers, Space Synthetic Biologist, Founder of SynBioBeta, Flight Director of The International Space Orchestra, USA

*** Debbie Lewis, Director for Resilience Preparedness at Axiom (Alderney) Ltd.

+ Actor Ronan Le Fur, Ecole Jacques Lecoq, France

“This is most urgent” Hans-Ulrich Obrist to Nelly Ben Hayoun, July 11th 2013,  Serpentine Gallery, London

Disaster Playground investigates future outer space catastrophes and the design of procedures to manage them and assess the risks. With  a cutting edge approach and through re-enactment of off-nominal situations by teams of space experts, designer of experiences at the SETI Institute Ben Hayoun is now working on a new challenge. Known as ‘The Willy Wonka of design and science”, she will question what the space programme could be if members of the public were to share its human condition – the dilemmas  faced by scientists over discovery and decision-making under pressure. From meteor showers to extraterrestrial signals, from frogs escaping experiments on board of the ISS and worms surviving the Challenger explosion to a volcanic eruption on Jupiter’s satellite, Disaster Playground documents the edge of space fiction.  Working with experts in Near Earth Objects (NEO), Disaster and Rescue Assistance (DART), the SETI Institute and with a all star team of composers and writers, Ben Hayoun is archiving disaster mitigation responses, unexpected failure systems and adversity in the space programme based on interviews, reflexions and re-enactments by a team of casted space experts: Deputy Director of Lunar Science Institute Greg Schmidt, Specialist of meteors showers Dr Peter Jenniskens, Specialist of Extraterrestrial Intelligence Dr. Jill Tarter and Dr. Seth Shostak, astronomer and planetary scientist Dr. Franck Marchis, Dr. David Morrison, Director of the Carl Sagan Center for Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute and more.

Disaster Playground is a ‘theatre of cruelty’ as defined by Antonin Artaud, a platform where scientific catastrophe and/or surprise can be more acclaimed than success. This cross and pluri-cultural project will go beyond American and European frontiers and will question the notion of disasters, widely represented in the literature of J.G Ballard and will investigate rescue reactions across culture.

For the V&A museum, Ben Hayoun presents the Research and Development phase of Disaster Playground (the project is to go into full production in 2014).

Disaster Playground follows the successful International Space Orchestra, which is a ground-breaking collaborative project that Ben Hayoun is currently directing at NASA Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute in California. It is an experiential and hybrid research laboratory, where space scientists have been invited to implement, deconstruct, perform, sing, mix, modify, and design musical acts in various scientific setup. It is a provocation to action: a call to imagine and disrupt future human relations to science;to adapt science to our creative needs. It involves leading space scientists – including the Deputy Director of NASA Ames and astronaut Yvonne Cagle, and composers such as Bobby Womack, Penguin Café and Beck have already collaborated on the project. In January 2013, the International Space Orchestra feature film had its world premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival where it was acclaimed by the critic as a “masterpiece” (Independent Cinema Office, ICO), a “real achievement” (DOMUS),”as thrilling as watching a rocket launch” and “Spine Tingling” (The Guardian).

Disaster Playground R&D:

Directed and created by Nelly Ben Hayoun
Original Concept: Nelly Ben Hayoun
Produced by: Nelly Ben Hayoun Studio
Script co-written by Nelly Ben Hayoun and Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer, SETI Institute
Scientific advisor: Franck Marchis, Senior Scientist, SETI Institute
Disaster Management Advisor: Debbie Lewis, Axiom (Alderney) Ltd.
V&A  Digital Design Week End Curator: Irini Papadimitriou
Model Maker: Andrew Friend
Material Designer: Clemens Winkler
Marketing Manager: Riemy Wan

Disaster Playground R&D camera operator: Laura Ben Hayoun
Disaster Playground R&D Editor: Alice Powell
Roundtable camera operator: Alice Masters
Roundtable photographer: Ludovic des CognetsRiso Print: Bold Editions
Graphic Design: PROTOPLOT
Disaster Playground R&D is supported using public funding by the Arts Council, England
With additional support from V&A, Broadway’s Near Now programme, Z33 and MUA project developed as part of Nelly Ben Hayoun’s position as Designer of Experiences at SETI Institute, CA, USA