Frank Pietronigro «Painting in Microgravity» 1998.

 Frank Pietronigro, Painting in Microgravity 4, 1998
Painting in Microgravity, 1998.

«My intention was simple: to eliminate the structural support—the canvas—while creating paintings floating in mid-air, with my body enveloped in the composition. I intended for technology and microgravity to contribute to the organic development of these kinetic Drift Paintings, with spontaneity and serendipity orchestrating the results.»

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Beginnings I unzipped the creativity chamber and entered. (I had originally used the word Tabernacle to signify the 'creativity chamber' and to site 'its basis in ritual'.) Equipped with my motion-sickness bags, swim cap and goggles, I experiencing various forms of disorientation as everything floated around me.

 Frank Pietronigro, Painting in Microgravity 3, 1998

Sometime after parabola 20, I was able to attach canvas, while floating in the space, to the interior of the chamber. Plummeting to the floor with the return of gravity, I was ready begin my 'study of fluid dynamics.' The time had finally come for me to paint, so I took a pastry bag and began to squeeze. My experiences with microgravity dynamics were without precedence in my experience as an artist. I felt great satisfaction with what was happening. The evolution of the forms was unexpectedly ethereal. The paint and I floated in what I remember as slow motion. Every action was elementary; I had little control over the outcome, yet I began to understand some things about this working space. Various pastry tips indeed produced different-sized biomorphic paint blobs whose velocity was dependent upon the movement of the jet and the pressure I exerted on the paint applicators. I planned to wear goggles to protect my eyes from getting paint in them; however, I did not expect the humidity from sweating, due to a lack of convection, to fill the chamber and render the goggles useless. Surprisingly, I discovered that the floating paint presented very little hazard. I was able to build up initial judgements about floating in harmony with the paint, on which I based future actions. Paint did escape out of the creativity chamber’s air vent as my body pressed the paint through the lavender meshed opening. It is significant to me that NASA staff decided to allow the paint to remain on the ceiling of the jet. In a New York Times article highlighting the project, M.G. Lord stated: «NASA, however, left the marks alone. 'There's a wonderful little abstract blob on the ceiling,' Mr. Fort said. 'It's considered art'». I fully believe, despite confronting some anticipated resistance from some camps within NASA, that NASA colleagues at the local level truly understood the scientific importance of our work as artists.


 Frank Pietronigro, Painting in Microgravity 2, 1998
Painting in Microgravity, 1998
 Frank Pietronigro, Painting in Microgravity 1, 1998
Painting in Microgravity, 1998

Frank Pietronigro, Space Painter
Mud Baths in the Vomit Comet.

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Imagine free-flowing liquid paint. Or undulating spheres of color colliding above the atmosphere to create extraordinary new colors. Non-gravitational painting suggests the creation of an extraordinary new style, which just might be dubbed 'non-convergency.'
Frank Pietronigro and his art students recently carried their paints and pallettes along for a sojourn aboard NASA's astronaut training plane. Pietronigro had long wondered about experimenting with his paints and canvases in zero gravity and was thrilled when NASA officials gave the go ahead to his proposal.
Last year, Pietronigro and some of his students actually went up in the aeroplane, sometimes referred to as the 'vomit comet' because the experience makes so many people nauseous. Their attempts to put paint to canvas was a definite 'no go.' Frank set up a large plastic tent in the plane where he and his students attempted to paint pictures. The experience became quite humorous as the painting class quickly mutated into a collective mud bath. Wobbling globes of paint migrated from their palettes and floated around the room, colliding with the ceilings and walls, and splashing Frank and his students. Very little of the paint stuck to the canvas! It became obvious that, in zero gravity, liquids behave quite differently than they do on earth.
This made for quite interesting variations in 'painting technique': in their attempts to mix colors, the artists pushed two spheres of paint together, which created very unusual color effects on the surfaces of the spheres as the colors collected on the outside of the paint balls.