“Impossible Object,” a flowing water sculpture that can take on a 3D form only in outer space in the absence of gravity, was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Rakia mission of Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe on April 8.

Designed by physicist Yasmine Meroz of Tel Aviv University and contemporary artist Liat Segal, the sculpture is made of interconnected brass pipes and rods, through which water flows.

In no-gravity conditions, the water adheres to the rods, forming a liquid layer shaped by water tension, which envelops the brass structure and yields a three-dimensional shape that changes over time like a wavy staircase.

Meroz’s lab at TAU’s School of Plant Sciences and Food Security studies the physics of plant systems. Segal studied computer science and biology and worked in high-tech for several years before shifting to a career in arts.

Photo of Dr. Yasmine Meroz by Naomi Meroz

The two women, who met as graduate students Tel Aviv University, did a previous collaborative artwork, “Tropism,” which was exhibited at the Genia Schreiber University Art Gallery.

“There is much in common between art and scientific research,” Meroz said.

“Both are the result of a thought process in which creativity plays a central role and are motivated by the desire to ask interesting questions. Impossible Object is a research-based artwork, where the medium is basically the physics underpinning water behavior in the absence of gravity. I learned a lot in the process.”

Photo of Liat Sega by Viviane Wild​

Segal said the co-creation “is timely, weighing the role of culture and art in an era when humanity is experiencing accelerated scientific and technological developments.

“Following incredible technological and scientific achievements in space, and as space tourism becomes tangible, it is important to reflect on the place of culture and arts in our lives, on earth and beyond.”