Ruth Waters

For the residence in ARCUS


A lot has been said about astronauts viewing the earth from space. It is posited as a mind-altering experience, where the fabrication of national boundaries and the fragility of the globe become clear. However, in the not too distant future this view will be as familiar as the view from a plane.

What then, about the view from the opposite window, of deep space. How might this view alter ones perspective? Whilst in Japan I have been researching how infinity and outer space may affect the human psyche. I interviewed Tomio Kinoshita*, about the affect of infinite darkness and micro gravity, Naoko Yamazaki** about how she felt when she looked out of the window of the ISS and Yu Urata*** about how we might try and comprehend big existential questions back on earth. I am interested in whether trying to comprehend outer space can help us become aware of the constructed nature of our everyday existence, and in doing so, help us to imagine alternatives.

* Tomio Kinoshita is Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University; in 2005 he conducted a study in cooperation with JAXA on the human and social aspects of space development.
** Naoko Yamazaki is a former JAXA astronaut who went to space on the shuttle Discovery as part of mission STS-131.
*** Yu Urata is a researcher at Osaka University concentrating on ‘meaning in life’.

Waters was born in Lancaster, UK in 1986, and lives and works in London. She studied fine art at Goldsmiths, University of London. Waters is concerned with anxiety arising from incessant communication among people of today in our current, highly networked era. Based on research into materials on the Internet and interviews with affected people, she writes scripts, creates sets, shoots footage, and presents work in the form of video installations.

[Selected Exhibitions and Activities]
2019 ‘Frequency of Magic’, out_sight, Seoul, South Korea
2019 ‘All About You’, The Koppel Project Hive, London, UK
2019 ‘Push Your Luck’, Island, Brussels, Belgium
2018 ‘The 6th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art’, Moscow, Russia
2018 ‘White Shadows’, wumin art center, Cheongju, South Korea

Reasons for Selection
Waters plans to investigate the human ego and the colonization of outer space. In advanced capitalist society, we face the question of what controls our intentions and actions in these efforts to open up one of the last frontiers remaining to humanity. She will survey stakeholders and experts on human perceptions of space and the nature of the relationship between space and capitalism, and present her findings in video form. Examination of relationships between the Earth (a capitalist society) and outer space, from here in Moriya, is a project worthy of attention.

Comment for Open Studios
With a focus on video installations, Ruth Waters explores the anxieties ushered in by capitalist society whose exclusive aim is economic growth. Incorporating spaces, approaches, and terminology from mindfulness therapy, she deftly portrays the inner psyche of people in society.

During her residency at ARCUS Studio, Waters has investigated changes that take place in the human mind and consciousness when in outer space. The so-called overview effect frequently experienced by astronauts is a cognitive shift in awareness caused by seeing the entire planet within the void of space. Upon viewing the Earth against the immense scale of outer space, people are said to feel the utter meaninglessness of personal troubles and disputes. Waters’ interview with a space psychologist revealed that in the expanse of outer space, completely devoid of light and with the Earth no longer visible, it is actually difficult for a human being to grasp the significance of his or her existence. Waters came to believe, however, that if humans could gain a more profane understanding of space, they might stop accepting the way of life that capitalism creates as absolute and unquestionable.

In the dark studio is projected footage from interviews with an astronaut and space psychologist about outer space. In space, are human beings released from their anxieties? Or are we rather engulfed by yet more uncertainty? These questions about capitalism and anxiety continue to unfold.

Director Keisuke Ozawa

Selected WorksShow Image
ActivitiesShow Image
Open StudiosShow Image

Resident Artists 2019

Christopher Beauregard  <USA>

Takuya Watanabe  <Japan>

Ruth Waters  <UK>