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X. laevis (Spacelab) 2017

2017; Simulation; Dimensions variable

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X. laevis (Spacelab) 2017


X. laevis (Spacelab) 2017 is a newly commissioned simulation by Irish artist John Gerrard, which responds to Luigi Galvani’s 18th-century experiments in which he studied the effects of electricity on the amputated legs of dead frogs.

Wellcome’s collection contains all of Galvani’s laboratory equipment from those pioneering tests, alongside a first edition of De viribus electricitatis in motu musculari commentaries (Commentary on the effects of electricity on the motion of muscles) in which the scientist published his findings.

In response to this Gerrard has developed a work in which the absent frog takes centre stage. The experiment represented, however, is one that occurred over 200 years after Galvani’s work, during the second mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. This later experiment established that vertebrates in the form of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) could reproduce in zero gravity – perhaps in anticipation of a future in which sustaining life beyond Earth becomes critical to human survival.


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Producer: Werner Poetzelberger

Programmer: Helmut Bressler

3D Modeler: Max Loegler

Rigging and posing: Michael Buettner 

Installation development and technical design: Jakob Illera / Inseq Design 

Game Engine: Unigine

X. laevis (Spacelab) 2017


X. laevis (Spacelab)
Wellcome Collection, London

Installed at Wellcome Collection 2017 as a frameless rear projection. 

Electricity: Curated by Lucy Shanahan and Ruth Garde, Wellcome Collection, with Consultant Curator and Exhibition Originator Paul Bonaventura. 

X. laevis (Spacelab)