Presentation for a cancelled conference

Indigenous Martian Bacteria DO Have Precedence Over Human Exploration Disembodied Masculinity and the Imagination of Outer Space: An Exercise in No Man’s Sky

Eren Ileri

Indigenous Martian Bacteria DO Have Precedence Over Human Exploration Disembodied Masculinity and the Imagination of Outer Space: An Exercise in No Man’s Sky” is a performance borrowing elements from video game live streaming and Let’s Play formats. I play No Man’s Sky video game by Hello Games and over the course of the performance I read texts about planetary protection, organized resistance against outer space exploration and ethics of space travel which are also typed into the game’s online chat windowexcerpts from my research drafts.


No Man’s Sky (2016) is an online open world exploration game, where the player discovers and catalogues planets and their flora and fauna, which are procedurally generated by the game’s engine. During the performance I look for the possibility to resist space exploration, an act which is counter-intuitive to the game’s objective. I leave traces inside the game, for other players of the game to see during or after my performance. My screen capture as well as the footage from a camera pointing my face is broadcasted in the venuemy face-tracking avatar is shown in the recording.


Dominant contemporary narratives about outer space travel render outer space, planets, asteroids etc. solely as resources to be exploited. In the field of science fiction, as well as in the discourses of real-world space exploration, outer space becomes a domain where colonial imaginations of the Other are reproduced and re-projected. The positioning of outer space as the “final frontier” facilitates ideas of conquest and exploitation; as language, imagery and representations of colonialism are evoked again in the realm of outer space, thus providing an “escape” narrative which works ideologically in the favor of legitimization of capitalist production modes on earth. These issues relate directly to my ongoing doctoral research and with this performance I seek to investigate further the ideas that are critical of space exploration and largely absent in mainstream discourses about the present and future of human space exploration.




Eren İleri (born 1988, Istanbul) is an artist and researcher, currently interested in the question of disembodiment in the context of imagination of outer space in science fiction. He is one half of Well Gedacht Publishing, a DIY publishing house dedicated to artists’ publications in various forms. He is pursuing a PhD degree at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.