Museum of the Moon tells a tale of our ongoing fascination with our closest celestial neighbor – The Moon. This ongoing touring artwork by British artist Luke Jerram, shows the moon in a number of different ways, altering the experience and interpretation of the artwork. Let’s travel with Jerram to the moon and talk about his work.
Measuring seven meters in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. The installation is a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound composition created by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award winning composer Dan Jones.
Where did you get the idea to make Museum of the Moon?
Bristol has the highest tidal range in Europe. There’s a 13m gap between high tide and low tide. Cycling to work each day over the river to work, reminded me that it’s the gravitational pull of the moon that’s making this happen. I had the idea to create the Museum of the Moon some 15 years ago, but it was only until very recently that the data for creating the moon imagery was made available by NASA. As a child I always wanted a telescope so I could study the moon and the night’s sky. Now with my own moon, I can fly there, study every detail and share this experience with the public. We can explore the far side of the moon which is never visible from Earth
The moon has always been an inspiration for artists. What was so inspiring for you about the moon?
From the beginning of human history, the moon has acted as a ‘cultural mirror’ to our beliefs, understanding and ways of seeing. Over the centuries, the moon has been interpreted as a god and as a planet. It has been used as a timekeeper, calendar and to aid night time navigation. Throughout history, the moon has inspired artists, poets, scientists, writers and musicians the world over. The ethereal blue light cast by a full moon, the delicate crescent following the setting sun, or the mysterious dark side of the moon has evoked passion and exploration. Different cultures around the world have their own historical, cultural, scientific and religious relationships to the moon.
Museum of the Moon allows us to observe and contemplate cultural similarities and differences around the world, and consider the latest moon science. Depending on where the artwork is presented, its meaning and interpretation will shift. Through local research at each location of the artwork, new stories and meanings will be collected and compared from one presentation to the next.
During its tour, the Moon has always been shown in public spaces. Why is it important to you to show your artworks in public spaces?
Depending on where the artwork is presented, the meaning and interpretation of the Museum of the Moon will shift. The interpretation of the Moon will be completely different if it is presented in a cathedral, warehouse, science museum or arts centre.
What do you expect to provoke among the public with Museum of the Moon?
It’s been wonderful to witness the publics’ response to the artwork. Many people spend hours with the Moon exploring its every detail. Some visitors lie down and moon-bathe. In Marseille I arranged an arc of deckchairs beneath the Moon. Within minutes, many of the chairs had been grouped into pairs and were occupied by couples holding hands! In Bristol, we had an unexpected group of visitors who arrived in slow motion to the exhibition, dressed as spacemen!
Music is also very important for your artwork. How relevant and important is Dan Jones’ composition to your work?
The Museum of the Moon installation is a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound composition. As the artwork tours, new audio compositions will be created and performed by a range of established composers and musicians, so adding to the Museum of the Moon collection.