The German Aerospace Center DLR recently installed the next generation of Short-Arm Human Centrifuges. It’s a new artificial gravity training device as well as a scientific platform to investigate the effects and medical risks of artificial gravity and hypergravity in a weightless environment. In a zero-gravity environment astronauts suffer from deterioration of weight-bearing bones and muscles. Other problems encountered include cardiovascular weakness, dizziness, motion sickness, inner ear disturbances, compromised immune systems and back pain. Short-arm centrifuges are used by scientists to simulate and study the effects of artificial gravity on the human body, and improve the physical condition of astronauts by using different training and testing methods. DLR´s new centrifuge is installed at :envihab, the new medical test center in Cologne. Michael Najjar has undertaken an intensive training session in the new centrifuge which is designed for a maximum radial acceleration of 6g at the outer perimeter.
The artwork "hypergravity" is an abstract transposition of the artist´s physical and mental experience during the centrifuge training session. Constructed in the form of a cross, the centrifuge forms the framework of the composition, dividing the picture into vertical and horizontal structures and colour elements. A unique feature of this cutting-edge machine is its ability to move the subject with respect to the axis of rotation. During the test, both the artist´s vital signs, and human physiological and medical parameters and his audio and visual communication were continuously monitored for a comprehensive evaluation of his medical status. Due to the extreme difference in gravitational forces between head and feet, during spinning the blood was constantly pressured out of the artist’s brain towards his lower body parts. As a consequence Michael temporarily lost his colour vision, then his angle of vision narrowed and he blacked out after several minutes of rotation accelerating to a maximum of 4g. The artist´s recorded body data are incorporated in the composition of the artwork. During the spinning, the round-shaped architectural environment gradually transformed into horizontal lines in the artist´s perception. "hypergravity" visualises the dissolution of real architectural space into rapidly flowing space that expands everything visible beyond the point of recognition, transforming it into elongated hurtling linear structures.