Why make art on Everest?

So excited to share with you my plans to summit Mt. Everest and make art-on-location at 1000m intervals to the top at 8848m to test novel outreach platforms for space analogue training, that I have neglected to explain the reasons behind it. Not that the challenge needed added complexity or pressure, rather I wanted to test the idea, that taking 5-8mins for reflection and personal expression, may in fact, become part of a broader strategy for extreme performance and survival. 

There is a direct parallel between the pressure-change effects and thermal exposure of high altitude and underwater. As an experienced commercial diver, I have been taught to overcome and perform through, the physiological and psychological impacts of Narcosis, decompression-related stressors on the body, extreme fatigue and exposure, by utilising the 4 highly technical psychological techniques used by Navy SEALs: 
  1. Goal Setting – simple focused actions, performed step-by-step, calm and task-oriented
  2. Mental Rehearsal – pre-performance visualisation and neuro-associative conditioning
  3. Arousal Control – relaxation, breathing, body awareness and imagination
  4. Self-talk – positive affirmations, pep-talks, and posture.
I have adapted many of these principals in creative practice underwater performing Aquabatics.  As the signs and symptoms described above are paralleled to altitude-related effects on the body, it makes sense, that adaptation of these 4 techniques would be equally appropriate for survival and performance in high altitude. Indeed research shows that alpinists and explorers engage in these practices in many forms, as do athletes, performers and martial artists. Naturally I began to imagine how my underwater performance practice and space analogue training, could translate to an expedition on Mt. Everest. NASA Astronaut Dr. Scott Parazynski summited Mt. Everest in 2009, and provided the missing link as the first person qualified to describe the similarity between spacewalking and the high altitude environment on Mt. Everest. This validated an untapped opportunity for testing and exploring opportunities for all-kinds of media and communications platforms (ephemeral, local, networked, live-streamed, interactive and site-specific) in the alpine space analogue training environment. Now I could visualise how my art-on-location could contribute recommendations for methodologies for performance and survival across the domains of sea, to summit, to space. To this end, I have been training and preconditioning to undertake such a challenge, and plan to employ these techniques as creative gestures to be paired with GPS, altitude, body-sensor data, and environmental documentation to understand the impact. I depart for Mt. Everest in April 2015 and hope that you will join me.
I have just launched my crowd funding campaign Bending Horizons and I would love your donation, support and endorsementPlease watch the video, back the project, read more about the project by going to the homepage.
Dr. Sarah Jane Pell, 2013. Photo Lucy McRae.
Dr. Sarah Jane Pell, 2013. Photo Lucy McRae.

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