OPTICKS/Echoes from the Moon

In 2018 I presented a very special version of OPTICKS for Global Astronomy Month 2018: I invited playwright/director IONE and the Pauline Oliveros Trust in the digital re-enactment of the performance Echoes from the Moon. I have been long inspired by Oliveros’s work and her experimental pioneering approach to sound and music. In 1987, Oliveros staged for the first time the performance Echoes from the Moon, at the end of which she had people queuing to speak to the Moon and back via a phone line, using the Moonbounce technology. Oliveros and Ione repeated the performance several times throughout the years, always drawing great enthusiasm from the participants. For GAM 2018, I asked Ione if she would be interested in collaborating in attempting to re-create the excitement of Echoes from the Moon by having members of the Astronomers Without Borders global community tuning in for a few minutes during our live online show and speak to the Moon and back. Ione thought the idea was wonderful and accepted the technical challenges posed by the experiment.

For OPTICKS/Echoes from the Moon, we had an international panel, featuring Ione, science communicators Andrew Fazekas and Jessica Santascoy, Scot- Gresham Lancaster, a long term collaborator of Ione and Pauline Oliveros, Jan van Muilwijk and other international radio operators, collaborators in all my OPTICKS endeavors, radio astronomer Roy Smits, myself and Tanguy Roussel, a student of mine from the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris. Together we had a flowing conversation about art, science, the Moon, the technical challenges required to perform each of these events using Moonbounce in real time. As always, we presented the programme from the cabin of the Dwingeloo radio telescope in the Netherlands, a 25 metres dish that can receive very strong echoes from the Moon. After reflecting off the Moon the wonderful images submitted by friends and people from all over the world, we opened the panel to our online community, with people entering the ‘virtual’ room on FB live from the US, India and Malaysia to say a brief sentence to the Moon and hear the echo of their voices.

At the end of the show, Ione performed her poem ‘Moon, Mond, Luna, Lune’ which created a poignant meditative silence in our panel discussion. I first presented OPTICKS/Echoes from the Moon live at the Académie des Beaux Arts in March 2018, as part of the workshop Radiotelescopie, lead in collaboration with neuroscientist and long term collaborator Stephen Whitmarsh: http://pad.pnensba.fr/p/radiotelescopie-agenda-bazar

Recording of OPTICKS/Echoes from the Moon: https://vimeo.com/684341553