Scientists, architects, educators, psychologists, artists—seemingly disparate, these people gathered in May 1970 in the studio of the artist Robert Irwin to learn together: what does it take to build habitable environments in space. This was the First National Symposium on Habitability of Environments, designed by artist Robert Irwin and the space program psychologist Ed Wortz. They believed that art, as a discipline dedicated to subjective experiences, is in the unique position to offer insights on the perspective of the people that will inhabit those environments. Together they turned a scientific symposium into an artwork crafted for a single purpose: to change the way NASA researchers approached the subject.
Curator for Creative Collaboration at WAM, Boris Ochierman, has received a research curatorial fellowship from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to study this event. The fellowship allows Oicherman to conduct in-depth research of the Symposium, leading to the first ever museum exhibition dedicated to the event and will host the Second National Symposium on Habitability. An artist in residence will work with Oicherman to examine the ways the subject of habitability is treated in contemporary research, developing a network of relationships at the University and beyond, connecting diverse perspectives, disciplines, departments, and researchers. The Target Studio for Creative Collaboration at WAM, a permanent space devoted to stimulating creativity through visionary collaboration among all disciplines, is a natural extension to host the exhibition and symposium.