Julijonas Urbonas - "Planet of People"

2023.04.28 - 11.19, Museum of Applied Arts and Design

Galerija Vartai is thrilled to invite you to the “Planet of People” by Julijonas Urbonas at the Museum of Applied Art and Design. 


This remarkable project, which allows viewers to become part of an astrophysical simulation in space by stepping into the 3D scanner, was first piloted in Vartai in 2018. The current version of this project was developed by interdisciplinary artist Julijonas Urbonas and his team  for the 17 Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2021. The work since then has been donated by Urbonas to the Lithuanian National Museum of Art, and will be showcased until the 19th of November, 2023 at the Museum of Applied Art and Design.


"Dr. Arūnas Gelūnas, Director General of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art, said that the museum appreciates this gift, and decided to present the interactive installation to the Lithuanian public without much delay. “Our museum’s community is very happy about the opportunity to show the significant project Planet of People by Julijonas Urbonas in the spaces of the Old Arsenal.”


The version of the piece presented at the LNMA Museum of Applied Art and Design seeks to retain the original structure, scale, and content of the Venice display; nevertheless, there were certain challenges. A few months ago the installation, which requires a space with a high ceiling, was presented in Australia in a slightly lower scale, now it will also fit in the space of the museum in Vilnius. The central axis of the installation is an almost five-meter-high 3D scanner structure that scans human bodies and turns them into hypothetical bioarchitectural models. Visitors are invited to come into this custom-programmed device and get scanned in a choreographed pose of their choice. 3D images of the scanned bodies are transferred to an astrophysical simulation in space, while the installed screens show the forming lump and the visitors themselves as co-creators of a new cosmic body. 

In this artistic-scientific possibility study, Urbonas not only explores the real possibilities of transferring our bodies to the cosmic void, where the special physical conditions would make the catapulted bodies attract each other. The artist speculates about how this astrophysical fiction would be implemented, and what its social,  political, and cultural consequences could be; what earthly nature means, and where the colonization and privatization of space, its pollution and policies governing the space lead. To answer these questions and explore space culture, extraterrestrial imagination and gravitational aesthetics, in 2019 Urbonas founded the Lithuanian Space Agency (LSA).


This semi-fictitious organization, which gathered an international team from different disciplines, turned the Lithuanian pavilion into a space research laboratory. In 2021, Dezeen,  the world’s most popular and influential architecture, interior and design magazine, included it in the list of ten recommended pavilions to visit. At that time the hypothetical planet was formed from 67 thousand people, and at the exhibition in Melbourne from 10 thousand, while the attendance in Vilnius is expected to match these numbers.


“Seeing the choreography chosen by visitors while being scanned, we also noticed that we cannot avoid objects, despite the fact that this project is very anthropocentric. Not only clothes, umbrellas, handbags and backpacks. One person in Venice was passing by the pavilion carrying a potted flower, and decided to send it into space. Considering the fact that this time the installation is exhibited in the Museum of Applied Art and Design, it is also interesting to invite visitors to think about what objects they would take with them into space,” Julijonas Urbonas said about the new context of the exhibition.


The duo of Ona Lozuraitytė and Petras Išora, who designed the spatial environment of the installation grounded by ropes and supporting structures, tried to create the impression of a portable ‘space camp’, and augment the laboratory with an elusive effect of familiar materials. The architects addressed current material urgencies and employed an unusual-looking plastic material, which has been recycled several times and is now, as part of the LSA, just in another stage of its continuous circulation. Its mass represents a critical perspective on human-made shifting geology and the stratum of material flows and traces that humans are leaving behind as a species. 


The tangled structure and ironic ornamentation resembles human guts and engages in an interesting interplay with Urbonas’ Planet of People, which consists of entangled human bodies. Conceptually referring to the idea of humans as post-fossil, this sinuous material was moulded into torus-shaped sitting elements and the surface of a rotating table that contains both a reception desk and the archive of the Lithuanian Space Agency. This archive encompasses some of Urbonas’ other works or ‘prototypes’ such as Airtime, Barany Chair, Cerebral Spinner, Cumspin, Emancipation Kit, Euthanasia Coaster, Hypergravitational Piano, and Oneiric Hotel. These works and the research behind them have formed the basis of the main installation, Planet of People.


The laboratory exhibited in the space of the Museum of Applied Art and Design is bracketed by two large reflective sails with deployable structures created by the artist Vladas Suncovas, who also designed the 3D scanner rig. Visualisation of the architectural fiction was done by Studio Pointer*, an interactive media design studio run by Asya Sukhorukova and Jakob Schlötter, who also created the conceptual visual identity of Lithuanian Space Agency – a custom font based on the structure of the human skeleton.


Earlier versions or installation elements of Planet of People have been presented at the Science Gallery in Dublin and Melbourne, Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai, the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, Vartai Gallery in Vilnius, the Collective’s City Dome exhibition space in Edinburgh, and in 2021 represented Lithuania at the 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture. The pavilion was organized by Rupert centre for art, residencies and education (commissioner Julija Reklaitė, curator Jan Boelen, assistant curator Milda Batakytė).

Planet of People at the LNMA Museum of Applied Art and Design (Arsenalo str. 3A, Vilnius) runs until the 19th of November, 2023."


Curator, artist Julijonas Urbonas

Architects Isora x Lozuraityte Studio for Architecture (Petras Išora and Ona Lozuraitytė)

Deployable structures designer Vladas Suncovas

Graphic designer, 3D scanner programming Studio Pointer* (Asya Sukhorukova and Jakob Schlötter)

Producer Mindaugas Reklaitis

Communication Jogintė Bučinskaitė

Printer machine programming Andrius Mikonis

Prototypes designer Paulius Vitkauskas 

Partner Vilnius Academy of Arts

Media partners LRT, Mediatraffic

July 4, 2023