The project titled Lunar Codex reaches space on three unmanned rockets later this year
The moon will become a kind of art gallery thanks to Canadian physicist Samuel Peralta, who decided to send a large collection of digital archives of contemporary art, photos, films, books, podcasts and magazines to the natural satellite. The lunar exhibition will have the signature of 30,000 artists from 157 countries, including writers, musicians and filmmakers.
Among the works sent into space are 130 issues of Poets Artists magazine, photos of war-torn Ukraine and poetry from countries threatened by climate change. There is also a Lego portrait of Pauline Aubey and a 1980 silkscreen by Alex Colville. Some works were commissioned especially for the project. This was the case with The Polaris Trilogy: poems for the moon, with poems from all continents.
The Lunar Codex project arrives in space in three unmanned rockets later this year and is seen by the creator as the largest produced to date to send cultural works outside the Earth.
Why take works to the moon?
The physicist and executive at Incandence, a Canadian technology company, sees the project as a sort of “message in a bottle for the future”. For him, it is a way of showing that people are capable of developing beautiful projects, even under adverse circumstances — such as wars, pandemics and economic crises.
This work will only happen because of NASA’s Artemis Program, which will take humans to visit the moon in 2026. The initiative will be a return to the star after more than 50 years. In parallel, the United States Space Agency will send scientific instruments to the Moon, between 2023 and 2026, through partners such as Astrobotic Technologies and Intuitive Machines.
Lunar modules will be launched from commercial rocket platforms by United Launch Alliance or SpaceX. The missions will carry NASA’s own instruments, but also commercial cargo, such as the time capsule containing the works of the Lunar Codex.
To get the project off the ground, Peralta, who in addition to being a developer is the project’s financier, still hasn’t calculated the real cost. But the physicist estimates that a small portion of the price of a ticket paid by the tourist who wants to visit the moon in 2026 will be invested. Currently, the amount charged for Virgin Galactic today reaches 450 thousand dollars, which is equivalent to more than R$ 2 millions.
Samuel Peralta’s initial idea was to send his own work and even his science fiction books to the moon. After the pandemic, he decided to expand the project and started compiling different content on his own. One of the challenges is to make people not think that the proposal to send art to the moon is a joke or fraud.
However, despite the seemingly unprecedented content, this is not the first time that art has gone to the moon. The natural satellite has been an art gallery of Earth works for decades. In 1969, the Museum of the Moon ceramic tile, with drawings by Forrest Myers, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros and John Chamberlain, was attached to a module left on the Moon by the Apollo 12 Mission.
The aluminum sculpture Fallen Astronaut, by Belgian artist Paul van Hoeydonck, was left on the moon by the crew of Apollo 15, in 1971.
What will the Lunar Codex look like?
The project submitted on digital memory cards or written in NanoFiche will be divided into four time capsules. This latest technology is a lightweight storage medium that can house 150,000 microscopic pages of laser-engraved text or photos on an 8.5-inch x 11-inch sheet.
The concept is reminiscent of the 1977 Golden Record, NASA’s cultural time capsule. With audio and images stored on a metal disk, the capsule was sent into space aboard the Voyager mission probes.
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