Live Performance between the Earth and the Moon
duration approx. 45 minutes
I realized the project in collaboration with the CAMRAS radio amateurs association based at the Dwingeloo radio telescope (NL). Each live performance is made possible thanks to the collaboration of international radio enthusiasts in Italy, Switzerland, Poland and Brazil.
OPTICKS employs a technology called Earth-Moon-Earth or Moonbounce, which uses the Moon as a natural reflector for radio signals.
In October 2009 I pioneered a new application of the Moonbounce technology, called Visual Moonbounce, which allows sending images to the Moon and back, using open source amateur radio technologies.
The title OPTICKS is inspired by Newton’s discoveries of the light spectrum, reflection and refraction. Similarly, the colours composing an image – converted into radio signals – are bounced off the Moon (reflected and refracted) by its surface during each live performance. The noise, the distortion of the colours and shapes make the Moon reflected images evocative of the long journey to the Moon and back.
I consider OPTICKS as a contemporary form of Happening and Mail Art, for which people from all over the world exchange images via the Moon during a playful and experimental event streamed live on the web from the cabin of the Dwingeloo radio telescope.
A recording of OPTICKS for the radio programme RaiTunes can be viewed here:
Credits: Jan van Muijwlijk, Enrique Tomas, CAMRAS association
For viewers in the live OPTICKS performance, the technology becomes a tool for experiencing virtual space travel.
The thought that one’s image is travelling into space can have a very engaging effect on the sender. Participants often report feeling as ‘virtual astronauts’ and I often refer to them in my presentations as ‘Cosmic Flaneurs’. The project is conceived as a Cosmic Mail Art event, where the digital images – often submitted from different locations on Earth – reach the Moon while being altered by its surface and by the long journey. At the end of each ‘happening’, the moon reflected images are printed as postcards and returned to the original sender with my message, confirming the effective journey of the image. The moon reflected postcards consolidate the network between the sender, the artist and the radio amateurs, creating a long lasting and tangible memory of the virtual cosmic journey.