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University of Art & Design - Geneva

Living in Space / Prof. Kihm

Odoma collaborated with Prof. Christophe Kihm on a 4-year research project on architecture for the extra-terrestrial living environments (e.g. space stations).

Odoma designed and developed a visual database and a dedicated data entry and search engine to populate and access a collection of visual representations of very different natures and origins.


We developed and experimented with new ways of searching, comparing, and circulating through the vast complexity of popular, scientific and artistic productions, always using images as pivotal points in the base.

The consulting interface (search engine) supports new ways to show the circulation of images across seemingly disconnected contexts (e.g. artistic and scientific literature, films and architecture, etc.).

A new navigation functionality helps users to understand how they bounce from one image to another and create different itineraries in various fields from a single starting point.

For example, a researcher can start his study with an object such as "chair" and explore horizontally all the contexts: architecture, art, films, scientific projects, etc.. At any point in his exploration, he can jumps vertically into one image and explore all related or linked entities (authors, places, projects, similar works, etc.).

Added value:

  • Application designed for the scholarly needs of a research project

  • Custom data entry and novel search functionalities

  • Re-use of open source tools to maximise efficiency

More about this project from Prof. Christophe Kihm:

The "Inhabiting extraterrestrial space" database currently contains 755 elements divided into 478 image files linked to 275 projects, objects, films and creations in the fields of space research, space communication, architecture, cinema and visual arts. We still have to integrate more than a hundred images already identified and filled in.

The development of the work on the image corpus has led us to design a more complex tool than a simple database: a research platform on the space habitat.

This database allows, for all domains :

1. to query images using descriptors, the main ones being: inhabitants (4 categories), habitats (12 categories), situations (6 categories), activities (21 categories) locations (15 categories), material objects (26 categories), architectural concepts (4 categories), themes (10), image circulations (5 fields and 20 sub-categories), type of collaborations (2 fields and 9 sub-categories),

2. to query the images using metadata, the main ones being: types of documents (open list, 48 items), document techniques (open list, 76 items), countries (open list, 21 items), natural or legal persons (open list, 537 items).

3. to consult bibliographic data (278) divided into primary and secondary sources associated with images and projects that can be consulted in the form of links or archives in pdf format.

4. Each image, project, object, creation or film is titled, described and placed in its historical context. These primary elements of the search are available when consulting any file associated with an image. Each descriptor and its fields are defined in such a way as to ensure the readability of the categories and concepts mobilised by the consultation.

Any search in the database is associated, at each of its stages and according to each of its modalities, with the creation of a corpus of images, with documentary and historical contextualisations.

The interrogation of relations between these images and objects thanks to descriptors and metadata that apply to all fields ensures that the proposed research has new transversal and multidisciplinary dimensions. They allow the questions associated with spatial habitability to be re-materialised on the basis of work on documents. They determine the conditions under which a material and cultural history of inhabited space can be conceived on the basis of documentary and historical investigations that delimit the extent of the framework on which this history is written.

The corpus of images and texts made available by the database constitutes a new material of knowledge of the history of the spatial habitat, both scientific and cultural. The objective of this database is to allow researchers from the humanities and social sciences to take hold of these corpuses and primary data in order to participate in the writing of this history.

Space station in the form of a rotating wheel designed by Herman Potočnik.
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