#Laugh represents both an individual laugh and the importance of creativity in innovation.
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This 3-D printer created the first sculpture in space.
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Made In Space.
Art in Space
A “laughing sculpture” becomes the first artwork ever produced beyond Earth

Cody Crane | for Scholastic Art

Last month, a collaborative project produced a truly out-of-this-world work of art—the first sculpture created in space. The ring-shaped plastic artwork, called #Laugh, was made aboard the International Space Station (ISS), 155 miles above Earth.

The sculpture was the brainchild of Israeli artist Eyal Gever and California-based manufacturing company Made In Space. Made In Space manufactured the 3-D printer found aboard the ISS. This device produces solid objects by building up layers of material, like plastic or metal, one on top of another. The team used the printer to create #Laugh, a physical representation of human laughter, inside the ISS.

Printing Laughter

As the first artist to work in space, Gever wanted his sculpture to have a universal appeal to everyone back on Earth. So he chose a subject that crosses all cultures: laughter.

Gever started by gathering samples of people’s giggles, chuckles, and cackles. To do that, he turned to crowdsourcing (enlisting the services of a large number of people to help with a project). Gever launched a smartphone app people could use to record their laughter. The app then turned the sound waves that make up each laugh into a “laugh star”—a digital 3-D model that resembles a donut with rippled edges.

More than 100,000 people downloaded the app to create personal laugh stars. Then users voted on their favorite submission. The winning laugh belonged to Naughtia Jane Stanko of Las Vegas. Her digital model was transmitted to the ISS and printed in space to become #Laugh.

Importance of Creativity

Astronauts usually use the ISS’s 3-D printer to make spare parts, tools, and other equipment. But the team at Made In Space wanted to show the public how technology and art can be combined to create something that symbolizes all people and their achievements.

“It’s important for the world to see that technology and art are not independent of one another,” Andrew Rush, the president and CEO of Made In Space, said in a recent statement. “We've enjoyed being a part of this project, and hope that it communicates to the world that innovation and creativity are the driving forces behind humanity's future in space.”