thoughts after playing Red Hat Stick Man
episode 39

To the moon!!


I'm going to Paris next month for an event at the Pompidou center ( check out this  cool article from CMU. ) The Moon Ark is an object designed to land on the surface of the moon onboard the Astrobotics Lunar Lander.  It's been a decade of work lead by Lowry Burgess who first had the vision of the interaction through aesthetics between humanity on the earth and that first step onto the lunar surface. (You can see Lowry seated across from me  at the Dwingeloo radio telescope for the Rotterdam Transmission. )

Enormous engineering and philosophical questions go hand in hand.  If I were forced to summarize those challenges and discussions I would say that the size of  the piece and the duration of the piece forced everything into a crucible of invention. It is very small; and it will last forever.  

The Ark can fit in your hand and is made up of 4 'chambers' each chamber capped by discs about the size of a US half dollar coin.  Inside each chamber are thematically connected pieces of art, poetry, nano-sculpture, hundreds in all etched and carved on the cylinders ( inside and out) and on the capstone discs.  Set aside the complex aesthetic relationship, the engineering is a marvel.  Some of the works themselves required new techniques to realize, on top of which everything has to fit within the payload constraints for actual launch.  Nothing can rattle around, and everything has to be super light.  

There are two Moon Arks.  One will end up on the moon, the other will stay here on earth.  The MoonArk on the lunar surface will not be visited by the ravages of terrestrial erosion and is expected to maintain it's current state for hundreds of millions of years barring asteroid of future human impact.

I've been slow to publish any records of this myself for reasons I hope to explore.   To summarize the pieces I've worked on: 

In the 'Ether' chamber, the Sonic Hologram to Andromeda   As described in the catalog, "A visualized sonic halo of stereo sound broadcast from radio telescopes in Rotterdam in October 2016. The radio-wave form will expand infinitely as it moves outward toward the Andromeda Galaxy. The music is derived from a three-dimensional holographic image of the Gate Into Ether translated into a musical form."

In the 'Lunar' chamber, the 'Moon Ballet'.  As described in the catalog, "An original ballet performed to music derived from a three-dimensional model of the moon translated into a musical score. "  The walls of the cylinder are etched with the photographic representation of the choreographic shape of the piece.  

The Moon Ark is a trigger for all kinds of other work.  Lowry and I went to the radio telescope at Dwingeloo  two years ago where the sound structure  of the middle 'Mystery' was broadcast to Andromeda.  That 'mystery' is the sonic hologram carved on the fourth chamber, but it is also the middle of 5 pieces constructed for the transmission to Andromeda.  

That starts to get in to a very different languae, right?  The CMU article doesn't talk about 'liturgy' or 'mystery'.  Maybe that's why I've held off on writing and publishing.  I was talking to Lowry recently and what it boiled down to is the imperative to  recognize the lineage that this work comes from.  It's an ecstatic, transcendent strand of art, and art in space in particular.  There's a hint of this in my podcast episode on Sputnik but I owe you all a full explication .  

I've got a notebook of material on The Rotterdam Transmission.  Some of my earliest conceptual pieces involved radio astronomy, and the idea of using 'sound' to model a 'structure' that extends beyond the commonly held vectors of scale associated with the mortal framework is central to what I consider my remaining tasks.   When I say I've got writing projects to do in 2019, this is top of the list. I've considered starting with my notes as a script for a mini-series of podcast episodes.  I do find it easier to riff  on ideas verbally and often find well-articulated ideas emerge in a lecture setting that otherwise would not have come out in a strcutured writing exercise.  So we'll see.  

Kathryn and I will spend 4 days in Paris and then another 4 days in Iceland.  I expect Reykjavik in January will be wonderful but
I am anxious about flights in and out.  More to come.    I may even try to record a podcast episode from the Northern Atlantic coast, avoiding dangerous rip tides.