Digital Matters - More Mud
A research project in the cluster Digital Matters, Digital Materialities, with Maibritt Borgen at the Institute for Art, Writing and Research, Royale Danish Art Academy for Fine Arts has started and will be fullfilled in 2021 with several pedagogical and material outputs.

Lunar Concrete

- Regolith Extraction in Outer Space and 3D printing on the Moon and in Mud on Earth

 This is a one-year artistic development project at the Royale Danish Art Academy for Fine Arts. It is developed by Karen Harsbo (Ceramic Lab) and Rikke Luther (Institute for Art, Writing and Research) and is aiming at practically exploring and unfolding the notion of the material lunar regolith, through 3D print and earth minerals, in form of interdisciplinary artistic research.


3D printed Lunar-concrete are linked to Si-Fi, military, political, technological developments, the ‘New Industrial Space Industry’ and the historical background for concrete in space started with 40g of the lunar regolith in 1986.

Map 8: Concrete: The Economy of Volcanos and Outer Space for print on tiles



We are in oxygen low water. Its still battered by waves from the 2008-financial crisis. In our time, democracy is aggressively interrogated from many different perspectives, which in turn determine the contexts of artistic action and research. From one side, the concept of ‘Carbon Democracy’ maps democracy’s entwined relationship to the economies of material extraction, power, and the planetary fact of ‘climate collapse’ [Mitchell, Carbon Democracy]. From another, the concept of ‘Post-Democracy’ [Crouch] maps out the highs and lows of democratic agency. Here, the peaks of democratic engagement in the 20th century are being levelled down by an era of rising economic and political inequality – a process that occurs both within nation states and between the nation states of the ‘developed’, and ‘developing’, worlds. In parallel, the political power of democracy is increasingly decentralised and weakened, only for that power to be re-centralised in the private boardrooms of post-national corporations. And, while this process has occurred, our climate has been warming.


Space is full of stories. And there are many ‘spaces’. Those images of coherence by which we navigate our lives, are rooted in the perspectives of particular places, social relations, history and time [Massey, For Space].The spaces of landscape, housing and urban life, and the materials we extract to support that version of life, are crisscrossed with human power relations.


We look on a concrete building, and on its material surfaces and interior spaces, and we are met by the 20th century ‘extraction economy’ that gave us the concrete architectures of democracy. Or perhaps we see the environmental destruction concrete entailed. Or perhaps we see humankind’s deep space future, a late 21st concrete modernism built on the moon or passing asteroids, as envisaged by advocates of ‘The New Space Industrial Age’.


The confluence, and divergencies, of these stories of habitation have affected how we think of planetary space, environmental change, and emergent climate chaos. The technological possibility of 3D printing lunar concrete, holds out the possibility of stabilising, and then exporting, current modes of political economy into a space future, by envisaging the earth as merely a set of exhaustible economic assets. Outer space here takes on the dynamics of the earthly UN Global Commons – ‘free’ spaces that are largely beyond the democracy of nation states and the effective regulatory grasp of international law.


Technological and military organisation have long been extensions of the existing power of the monarch and state into new territories, material and human support for the search for private profit. Meanwhile, back at the planetary level, the progressive associations of concrete Modernism have run into the wall: progress is now encircled by increasingly ‘unseasonal’ weather patterns, and undermined by the daily media outpouring of post-democratic political sentiment. Concrete culture now echoes the mid 20th century observations of Karl Polanyi. But when capitalism faces off against democracy today, it chooses what Colin Crouch dubbed ‘post-democracy’, before stretching itself out across future space.


Stills from Luther's film Concrete: The Great Transformation

1. Aion A mine, (Emma Kunz), Sweitzerland, 2019
2. Lime mining, Aalborg Portland, Aalborg, Denmark, 2017
3. Sandmining in Roldskov, Denmark
4-9. Aalborg (Aalborg Portland, Aalborg University (1972), Main Library (1980), Lina Bo Bardi´s SECS Community Center, Sao Paulo, Brazil, (1982), rebuilding the harbour front (2018))
10. Land Building, North Harbour, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2017

11. Lego Land, Billund, Denamrk, 2018

12. An image from Thomas J. Campanella field research trips to China in relation to his book The Concrete Dragon - China's Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World (2008). Thanks to Thomas J. Campanella for using the image of Mr. and Mrs. Gainsborough in China

13. Demonstration against privatization of social housing and the 'Ghetto Plan', here in from of Landsbyggefonden (the country building fund), Copenhagen, 2018
14. 3D printing of concrete, Italy, 2019

15. Simulit Rhegolith mining, Germany, 2019
16. ESA´s 3D prinit, 2019

17. On-line information movie about mining on the moon

18. Chinese harbour, Trieste, Italy, 2019

19. Slury leftovers by State/private Iron mining (2015), Bela Horizonte, Brazil, 2016

20-21. Oslo, 2017

22. Nagagin Capsule Tower (1979), Tokyo, 2019

23. Hashima, first undersea coal mining and higest dence place on the planet in the 1960´ties, Japan, 2019

24. More concrete, Japan, 2019

25-26. Japan, 2019

27. Peace Center (1954), Hiroshima, Japan, 2019

28. Kyoto Congress Center, Japan, 2019

29. A Cloud with sand, 2018

Tests with simulatet rhegolith, 2019

Supported by the Danish Ministry of Culture


Skærmbillede 2019-11-27 kl. 12.02.42