The MAX Festival 2019

Saturday, May 18, 2019 • 10:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Included with museum admission and free for Daytime members and After Dark members.

Join us for the inaugural MAX (Media, Arts, Exploration) Festival at the Exploratorium as we celebrate humanity’s modern frontier: space. Illuminating scientific exploration through artistic expression and shared experiences, the MAX Festival has gathered local and international artists who explore the new space age.

Spacewoman of the Underground
With Christine Zuecher

10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 2:00–4:00 p.m.
Gallery 4

Wearing a handmade spacesuit and wielding tools for excavation, Christine Zuercher performs an attempt to dig a hole to the other side of the planet. Adjacent to her dig is a ham radio where she receives transmissions from all parts of the globe. Watch recordings of the actual dig, look for artifacts in the exhumed dirt that came from beneath the earth, tune into the radio transmissions to experience the voice of the unknown, and write a letter to the planet Mars. Come celebrate the human urge to explore—and interrogate the instinct to exploit.

Christine Zuercher received a BFA from the University of Dayton and an MFA from East Carolina University. Her research is on shortwave radio, the Space Race, and transmission technologies with a focus in interdisciplinary and alternative photographic processes.


Space Travel Sci-Fi Style
With Sarah Hotchkiss

11:30 a.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum

Come fly with us where ‘man’ has never gone before: in this playful talk, we’ll watch clips from sci-fi films both thought-provoking and ridiculous, test our knowledge of space travel, and determine which fictions of the future we might like to bring into being.

Sarah Hotchkiss is a San Francisco-based artist and arts writer. She watches a lot of science fiction, which she reviews in the semi-regular publication Sci-Fi Sundays. She is the visual arts editor for KQED.


With Xin Liu

Noon–4:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio

Living/Distance explores how each of us holds a relatively inconsequential, yet wholly unique place in this world. Brought to life in space, Liu’s sculpted avatar dances through the cosmos on a Blue Origin rocket. Footage of the space voyage and poet Abigail Wender’s narration of Xin’s journey of creation combine to provide an immersive and truly otherworldly experience.

Xin Liu is an artist and engineer whose research-based projects range from performances, apparatuses, and installations to scientific experiments and academic papers. Xin is the the Arts Curator in Space Exploration Initiative in MIT Media Lab and a member of New INC in New Museum.

Abigail Wenderhas been published nationally including The Cortland Review, DMQ Review, Epiphany, Guernica / a magazine of art and politics, Kenyon Review Online, and The  Massachusetts Review,  among many others.


Robots as Our Partners/Pas De Deux
With Alex Reben, Alice Sheppard, and Sasha Samochina

1:00 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum

Engage with a pas de deux like you’ve never seen before, one created by the interaction between dancer-choreographer Alice Sheppard and a robot “inspired” by Alex Reben. As an introduction to robots as our avatars, Sasha Samochina of Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Visual Operations Lab will introduce the robots JPL has trekking through the solar system, from Mars to Jupiter. Take it all in and imagine the ways technology reflects and interrogates our humanity.

Alexander Reben is an artist and MIT-trained roboticist who explores humanity through the lens of art and technology. Using “art as experiment,” his work allows the viewer to experience the future within metaphorical contexts.

Alice Sheppard took her first dance class to make good on a dare; she loved moving so much that she resigned her academic professorship to begin a career in dance. Engaging with disability arts, culture, and history, Alice attends to the complex intersections of disability, gender, and race by exploring the societal and cultural significance of difference.

Sasha Samochina is an immersive visualization producer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Currently, she works in ;the Ops Labat JPL producing immersive experiences to help scientists and engineers complete their daily work and helping NASA to make space more accessible to everyone.


Intergalactic Travel Bureau
With Guerrilla Science

2:00–5:00 p.m.
Gallery 4 Demo Station

Plan your vacation to Mars! Or why not a SuperNova? The Intergalactic Travel Bureau is the farthest-reaching—and friendliest—travel agency in the universe. Enjoy a VR preview of your voyage before you go.

Guerilla Science is committed to connecting people with science in new ways and producing live experiences that entertain, inspire, challenge, and amaze.


With Janani Balasubramanian

2:00–3:00 p.m.
Gallery 5

Heisenberg is a large-group augmented-reality game exploring uncertainty, precision, and chaos. Participants start at the beginning of the universe and move through a series of matter/energy transformations, each emphasizing limits on personal understanding—a cue from particle physics and the game’s namesake, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

Janani Balasubramanian ;is a writer, game designer, and immersive theater maker whose work has been presented at more than 160 stages across North America and Europe. Balasubramanian is currently a 2018–2020 Van Lier fellow at the Public Theater as well as artist-in-residence with the brown dwarf astrophysics group at the American Museum of Natural History.