MAX 2019: A Space Festival Brings An Arts-Meets-Science Fueled Odyssey Of Space Exploration To San Francisco

MAX 2019: A Space Festival Brings An Arts-Meets-Science Fueled Odyssey Of Space Exploration To San Francisco

MAX (Media Art Xploration)-where science and live arts converge-is proud to present MAX 2019: A Space Festival, produced in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium, Z Space. The festival is organized around three principles: Immersion, Education and Live Performance.

MAX 2019 consists of 18 programs over the course of 3 days at the California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium and Z Space.

There will also be a pre-festival live reading at SF Playhouse.

"At this time of speed-of-light scientific innovation," says MAX Producing Director, Kay Matschullat, "we thought it time to bring together artists, humanists, scientists and artist-engineers to engage the public and ignite the imagination around these advances, and in doing so, take some to time to ask the question: 'What kind of new Space Age is this?' Through the shared experience of performance and immersive entertainment, our aim is to consider and illuminate the constant innovation happening all around us, and the challenges these innovations leave in their wake. There is no better city for such a meeting of the minds and the machines than San Francisco."
Programming by Venue


MAX Festival Opening Night Kick off at After Dark!
Space Travel Sci-Fi Style
A playful talk featuring clips from sci-fi films-both thought-provoking and ridiculous- about space travel, where the audience helps determine which fictions of the future we might like to actually bring into being. Come fly with MAX 2019 where 'man' has never gone before!

Dates: May 16 7:30PM (Program will repeat May 18 11:30PM)
Location: Kanbar Forum, Exploratorium
Artist: Sarah Hotchkiss
Art: Visual/Film
Science: Space Travel
Admission: Included with Adult MAX PASS or Exploratorium After Dark membership; individual tickets $19.95 After Dark Adults Only (18+)


Pas de Deux: Robots as Our Partners with Alice Sheppard
A Pas De Deux where dancer-choreographer Alice Sheppard and a robot 'inspired' by Alexander Reben create a work that explores both the ideas and ambiguities inherent in the term Pas de Deux. In addition, as an introduction to robots as our avatars, Sasha Samochina of Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Visual Operations Lab will guide attendees through the robots JPL has trekking through the solar system, from Mars to Jupiter, as the audience is invited to imagine the ways in which technology reflects our humanity and interrogates it.

Samochina will also demonstrate how her Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) creations allow scientists in collaboration with their robots to explore the unknown. This is an opportunity to learn about the tech used to discover new worlds and propel humanity into the very outer-reaches of everything we've ever known.

Dates: May 16 8:30PM, (Program will repeat May 18 1PM)
Location: Kanbar Forum, Exploratorium
Artists/Presenters: Alice Sheppard, Alexander Reben and Sasha Samochina
Art: Dance
Science: Engineering & Robotics
Admission: Included with MAX PASS or Exploratorium After Dark membership; individual tickets: May 16 After Dark $19.95 Adults Only (18+), May 18 General Admission $19.95-$29.95 or free for Exploratorium members


Heisenberg is a large-group, site-specific augmented reality game that explores uncertainty, precision, and chaos. In this shared experience situation, all participants will start at the beginning of the universe and move through a series of matter/energy transformations, each emphasizing limits on personal understanding-a cue from particle physics and the game's namesake, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

Dates: May 16 7:15PM and May 18 2PM
Location: Exterior Plaza (Rain Location: Gallery 3), Exploratorium
Artist: Janani Balasubramanian
Art: Augmented Reality
Science: Physics, Uncertainty and Chaos
Admission: Included with MAX PASS or Exploratorium After Dark membership; individual tickets: May 16 After Dark $19.95 Adults Only (18+), May 18 General Admission $19.95-$29.95 or free for Exploratorium members


Kronos Eclipse
San Francisco's Grammy award-winning Kronos Quartet has a gravitational force unlike any other musical ensemble.

Over the course of 45 years Kronos has pulled numerous collaborators into its orbit. While Kronos may be best known for its partnerships with artists such as Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and filmmakers Guy Maddin and Darren Aronofsky, it also frequently works side-by-side with naturalists, astrophysicists, and other scientists. The NASA Art Program has even commissioned music for the group! As part of a space-themed multimedia concert, Kronos reprises 233rd Day, before and after Totality by the Exploratorium's composer-in-residence Wayne Grim, a piece originally performed on August 21, 2017, to a computer sonification of the total solar eclipse, in real time, as the eclipse progressed.

Date: May 17 8PM
Location: Kanbar Forum, Exploratorium
Artists: Kronos Quartet
Art: Music: Composition & Performance
Science: Sonics and Solar Eclipses
Admission: Included with MAX PASS; individual tickets: $35 (18+), $26 (17 and under)
*MAX Pass holders are required to register separately for this event, based on availability, by May 7. Space is limited.


Intergalactic Travel Bureau
Interested in planning a vacation to Mars? Or perhaps the preference is a sojourn to a Supernova? The Intergalactic Travel Bureau-the farthest-reaching and friendliest travel agency in the universe-offers a VR preview of your voyage!

Dates: May 16 6-9:30PM, May 17 12-4PM, May 18 12-4PM
Location: Gallery 4, Exploratorium
Artists: Jana Grcevich
Art: Performance
Science: UX and the real details of space travel
Admission: Included with MAX PASS or Exploratorium After Dark membership; individual tickets: May 16 After Dark $19.95 Adults Only (18+), May 17-18 General Admission $19.95-$29.95 or free for Exploratorium members


Spacewoman of the Underground
In early May from Harvard University's Memorial Hall, Christine Zuercher-assisted by a statistician working alongside with pencil and paper-will attempt to dig a hole to the other side of the planet while wearing a handmade spacesuit. Adjacent to her dig will be a Ham Radio used to receive transmissions from all parts of the globe. Meanwhile, Exploratorium viewers will be invited to investigate her findings and tune into the radio transmissions in order to experience the voice of the unknown. The Dig celebrates the human urge to explore while interrogating the instinct to exploit.

Dates: May 16 7-9:30PM, May 17 10.30AM-12:30PM & 2-4PM, May 18 10:30AM-12:30PM & 2-4PM
Location: Gallery 4, Exploratorium
Artists: Christine Zuercher
Art: Performance Art
Science: Ham Radio
Admission: Included with MAX PASS or Exploratorium After Dark membership, individual tickets: May 16 After Dark $19.95 Adults Only (18+), May 17-18 General Admission $19.95-$29.95 or free for Exploratorium members


Xin Liu brings her sculpted avatar to life in space and watches it dance through the cosmos on a Blue Origin rocket until it is destroyed upon reentry. Using external and internal footage of her robot's voyage and an avatar created in conjunction with poet Abigail Wender, Living/Distance explores how each person holds a relatively inconsequential, but wholly unique place in this world.

Dates: May 16 6PM-10PM, May 17 & 18 10AM-5PM
Location: Gallery 3 Webcast Studio, Exploratorium
Artists: Engineer Xin Liu & poet Abigail Wender
Art: Digital/Visual Arts + Poetry
Science: Engineering
Admission: Included with MAX PASS or Exploratorium After Dark membership; individual tickets: May 16 After Dark $19.95 Adults Only (18+), May 17-18 General Admission $19.95-$29.95 or free for Exploratorium members


California Academy of Sciences

MAX Constellation of Educational Programs

  • Star Stories
    Exploring their tribe's traditional Star Knowledge, Lakota youth create photomurals expressing their connection to the cosmos. Through photographs and a video featuring interviews with figures in their community, the students will explore specific Lakota Sioux creation stories and their meaning today.

    Dates: May 17 & May 18, 9:30AM-5PM
    Location: Grand Hall, California Academy of Sciences
    Teaching Artists: Robin Dahlberg and Josee Schryer
    Curator: Sally Katz
    Art: Spoken Word/Lakota Nation Creation Myths & Interactive Exhibits
    Science: Astronomy
    Admission: Included with MAX PASS or Academy membership; for general admission tickets to the Academy and pricing, visit
  • Star Stories: The Podcast
    Live recording and audio installation by youth sound engineer-artists from the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco capturing the Star Stories of visitors. This podcast is produced in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club of SF and Notes for Notes, and includes teaching artists TJ Guardino, Gerardo Escalante, and Ashley Simmons.

Date: May 17, 3:30PM- 5PM
Location: Grand Hall, California Academy of Sciences
Artists: Boys & Girls Club of SF and Notes for Notes, TJ Guardino and Gerardo Escalante
Art: Creation Myths & Sound Engineering
Science: Astronomy Admission: Included with MAX PASS or Academy membership; for general admission tickets to the Academy and pricing, visit

  • Outta This World Poetry Slam
    MAX 2019 partners with the renowned organization Youth Speaks to bring together a community of students at the nexus of space science and poetry. MAX will partner young poets with scientist mentors who will advise on the development and scientific accuracy of their artistic expression during this afternoon of new voices in poetry and space science. Together, these young Bay Area poets will address themes of the New Space Age with sonic rhythmic constellations of their own.

    Date: May 17, 2-3:30PM
    Location: Piazza, California Academy of Sciences
    Organizer: Youth Speaks
    Artists: Young poets
    Scientist mentors/judges: Dr. Penny Boston NAI, Dr. Sanjoy Som
    Art: Lit/Poetry
    Science: Space
    Admission: Included with MAX PASS or Academy membership; for general admission tickets to the Academy and pricing, visit


  • Mapping Microbes: The Search for ET
    Could microbes-the organisms that live on and in us-be the key to finding extraterrestrial life? With Mapping Microbes: The Search for E.T., MAX gets microbial! Featuring three interactive stations throughout the day, this is an opportunity to engage with Academy scientists, including Chief of Science, Dr. Shannon Bennett, about the microbes all around (and inside) us and the possibility of 'alien' microbes here on Earth!

Experiences include:
· Microbiology, featuring Dr. Shannon Bennett, Chief of Science at the California Academy of Sciences
· Blue Marble Space Station, aka, "Ask An Astrobiologist," in this case Sanjoy Som of the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science
· NASA, with Meg Cheng Campbell
Date: May 17, 9:30AM-5PM
Location: Grand Hall, California Academy of Sciences
Art: Dimensionality Phenomena Unveiled
Scientists: Dr. Shannon Bennett, Chief of Science, California Academy of Sciences; Sanjoy Som (Ask an Astrobiologist); Meg Cheng-Campbell (NASA Table)
Science: Biology, Astrobiology and the Microbiome
Art: Dimensionality Phenomena Unveiled
Admission: Included with MAX PASS or Academy membership; for general admission tickets to the Academy and pricing, visit
Z Space

The Outer Space
In this musical/song cycle a couple buys an old spaceship to leave behind an overcrowded Earth by moving out and into the final frontier. Ethan Lipton-who has performed with Laurie Anderson- and his band will take the audience on a journey about trying to run away from it all only to run into "yourself" in space.

Dates: May 17 7:30PM, May 18 7:30PM
Location: Z Space Theater
Artist: Ethan Lipton
Art: Music Performance
Science: Space Travel (as a journey through one's inner life)
Admission: Included with MAX PASS or $30


Extraterrestrial - A Drag Invasion
Alert, alert! San Francisco is being invaded by a flock of otherworldly and beautiful extraterrestrial drag queens. This is a chance to secure a spot to view cosmic creations, supernatural lip syncs, galactic performance, and help another Dorothy back to earth.

Dates: May 17 10PM
Location: Z Space Theater
Director: Tye Olson
Art: Drag Performance

  • Cloaca-She's the WORST
  • Frida Mont-The Skinniest Latina Sensation
  • Venus Soleil-Glitter Obsessed, Melanin Grunge Doll
  • Amoura Teese-Latinx-Chola Dancing Diva
  • Lady Camden-Baby Spice's cousin, Garbage Spice

Admission: Included with MAX PASS or $20


MAX collaborators chat about the art of collaboration between disciplines. Performers, artists, and scientists, engineers and technologists will explore process and take questions from the audience. This is an opportunity to mingle, as well as listen and learn about the making of interdisciplinary work.

Date: May 18 3-6PM
Location: Z Space Theater
Participants: Alice Sheppard, Alexander Reben, Dr. Penelope Boston, Andrea Levin, Sasha Samochina, as well as the CRISPR team from Stochastic: Andy Cavatorta, Alison Irvine, Dorothy Santos, and Shen-Ying Pao
Admission: FREE with registration


MAX Lounge: Installations and Refreshment
Universal Threads
MAX 2019 takes fashion into the 4th dimension when it brings these celestial looks to life with augmented reality. Artist Andrea Lauer and Astrophysicist Janna Levin will use fashion as a medium to communicate the story solar eclipse of 1919, and the mysteries of Spacetime as revealed by Arthur Eddington's expedition to record that eclipse.

Dates: May 17 at 6-11PM, May 18 at 2-11PM
Location: Z Space, MAX Lounge
Artists: Andrea Lauer, Janna Levin
Art: Fashion and Design
Science: Astrophysics and Augmented Reality
Admission: FREE!


Speech-Cancelling Headphones
Sensory input takes center stage when members of the audience are asked to participate and don a set of specially designed set headphones, and then attempt to read a piece of text, only to find they are suddenly unable to speak as they usually would.

Dates: May 17 6-11PM, May 18 2-11PM
Location: Z Space, MAX Lounge
Artists: Alexander Reben
Art: Sound
Science: Sensory Input
Admission: FREE!


The Final Frontier: The After Party of the Universe
MAX 2019: A Space Festival's closing night! A mix of cabaret, live painting and special DNA cocktails from Sister Sylvester. The cocktails contain DNA from a hat that was part of the costume for soldier # 2 in the Berliner Ensemble performances of Mother Courage. Because Brecht wanted the hat "to stink like the war," it has never been washed since, so it retains the DNA of those who have interacted with or wore it since 1949.

Brecht Forensics: DNA Cocktails is a lecture that demonstrates DNA extraction live onstage, and then creates two cocktails, The Herman, and The Karl, from DNA of two different individuals, former members of the Berliner Ensemble. A party then follows this lecture-demo when the audience drinks the cocktails, and the performance takes place in the small intestines of the audience, as they ingest the DNA, break it down, and reabsorb its components into their own proteins. Made with the support of Genspace NYC.

In February, patients at Houston's Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital worked side by side with artist Edgar Medina on a history-making mission to create a unique work of art that launched into space aboard a Blue Origin rocket. Now, attendees have to chance to witness the triumphant return of this participatory painting at Z Space and bid at a silent auction to keep it here on earth.

Date: May 18 9PM
Location: Z Space, MAX Lounge
Artists: Sister Sylvester and Edgar Medina
Art: Cabaret/ Live Painting/Cocktails
Science: Paintings by children from Houston Hospital return from a space trip aboard Blue Origin rocket and are re-assembled
Art: Brecht Forensics-DNA Cocktails by Sister Sylvester
Admission: Included with MAX PASS or $15


Note: there will also be pre-festival reading at SF Playhouse on Thursday, May 16, featuring The Overview Effect by Lynn Rosen, a play about the New Space Age.

Dueling launches by competing space companies, each on a quest for Mars, ends in disaster when RedSky's unmanned rocket explodes. Investigations are undertaken and the costs of the financial, emotional and spiritual risk-taking are unearthed. This drama freights a great deal of humor about the race to space and beyond. Commissioned by the Sloan Foundation Theater Initiative, The Overview Effect by Lynn Rosen was conceived by Lynn Rosen and Kay Matschullat, and directed by Kip Fagen. The San Francisco Playhouse presents this staged reading in association with MAX 2019: A Space Festival.

Date: May 16, 1-2:30PM
Location: SF Playhouse
Artists: Group Reading, directed by Kim Fagen
Art: Literary
Science: The race into space
Admission: Free with registration

Overall Festival Dates & Links to Tickets, Passes and High Res Images

What: MAX 2019: A Space Festival
When: May 16-18
Where: Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, Z Space, and SF Playhouse

  • MAX PASS Festival Ticket: Adults (18+) $99, Youth (17 and under) $59
  • MAX PASS Adult Early Bird tickets $89, available through April 16
  • Individual tickets to paid events $14.95-$40

More Information and Ticket Purchase Links can be found HERE

For more information on programming as well as those collaborating, presenting or performing go to

High Res Images Can Be Found HERE

MAX 2019: A Space Festival is produced in partnership with the California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium and Z Space.

About MAX
Media Art Xploration (MAX) produces and presents groundbreaking work by collaborative artists, scientists and artist-engineers to ignite the imagination around the light-speed advances of our time. As a nonprofit, MAX strives to engage community engagement around these changes and further an informed democracy.

About the California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth. Based in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in scientific research and education-all under one living roof.

About the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is a portal to the astonishing scientific phenomena that animate our world and shape our actions. We create extraordinary learning experiences that ignite curiosity, upend perceptions, and inspire brave leaps forward. Since 1969, the Exploratorium's museum in San Francisco has been home to a renowned collection of exhibits that draw together science, art, and human perception, and that have changed the way science is taught. Our award-winning programs provide a forum for the public to engage with artists, scientists, policymakers, educators, and tinkerers to explore the world around them. We celebrate diversity of thought, inspired investigation, and collaboration across all boundaries

About Z Space
Z Space empowers artistic risk, collaboration and camaraderie amongst artists, audience and staff in the service of creating, developing and presenting new work.

Operating two venues in San Francisco's historic Mission District, a main stage and a black box theater, Z Space host's new works from a variety of performance disciplines year-round. Keystone initiatives include New Work, a development program that supports artists and ensembles from conception to realization of unique works, Word for Word, a resident theatre company that transforms works of literature verbatim to the stage, and Youth Arts, an arts education program promoting literacy and engaging students' creativity.

We foster opportunities around the nation for these works and we engage diverse audiences through direct interactions with the process, the projects, and the artists.

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