The KOSMICA: Full Moon Party took place last month as part of the Republic of the Moon exhibition programme and that means that I'm ridiculously late with these notes. Kosmica is The Arts Catalyst's evenings of performance and conversations for the 'cosmically curious.' I've attended a couple of Kosmica events in the past and this one was as exciting as ever.

0mKosmicaFullMoon_co5x315.jpg

Space scientist Lucie Green is an expert in the sun but she gave a wonderful presentation about the magnetic bubble that surrounds and protects the earth from the radiation of the sun and about how the moon is electrically charged, Dr Jill Stuart focused on space politics, Tomas Saraceno talked about cities that are lighter than the air, Kevin Fong asked us to reflect on how past expeditions might actually belong to the future.

Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser from WE COLONISED THE MOON presented the largest Moon smelling session ever done on our planet. It was hilarious and it didn't smell nice. My wool sweater is not thanking them.

London based improvisation band Orchestra Elastique live scored Georges Méliès' A trip to the Moon.

All the talks are online. I enjoyed all of them but i wanted to spend more time on the most 'political' ones so i'm writing down below some notes and links from Kevin Fong and Jill Stuart's presentations.

Kosmica Full Moon Party Part 6, Jill Stuart

Dr Jill Stuart is a Fellow in Global Politics at the London School of Economics, and reviews editor for the journal Global Policy. She researches law, politics and theory of outer space exploration and exploitation. Her interests extend to the way terrestrial politics and conceptualisations such as sovereignty are projected into outer space, and how outer space potentially plays a role in reconstituting how those politics and conceptualisations are understood in terrestrial politics. ,

Stuart talked about the long history of outer space law and more specifically about 'Who owns the Moon?' (which she calls the Muuuhn)

We all know that iconic image of Neil Armstrong planting a flag 1969. Did the gesture imply that the United States can claim any kind of ownership over the moon? Who owns the moon exactly?

The answer is a combination of 'no one' and 'everyone' owns the moon.

No One because The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 says that outer space (which obviously includes the moon) cannot be 'appropriated' by any national State for sovereign purposes.

Everyone because the same treaty states that outer space is the province of all mankind.

The treaty was widely ratified and is still today accepted as being doctoring.

0px-Scott_Gives_Salute_-_GPN-2000-001114.jpg
David Scott salutes the American flag during the Apollo 15 mission. Great Images in NASA Description, NASA photo AS15-88-11863

0a0a0ku-xlarge.jpg
All the American Flags On the Moon Are Now White (via Gizmodo)

0SansourMLabs.jpg
Larissa Sansour, A Space Exodus

Now another interesting issue Stuart raised was the number of flags on the moon. The US chose to put a US flag on the moon, rather than some sort of global flag. But it turns out that there are more than one US flag on the moon. 6 US flags were delivered by humans on the Appolo mission.

And it wasn't just the US who got 'flag happy'. Four other countries had flags delivered even though it didn't have legal significance in terms of appropriation. Russia, China, India and the European Space Agency also have flags up there. Russia and China have soft landed on the moon and delivered flags. The other delivery method is to crash something on the moon that bears a flag.

0Moon_landing_sites.jpg
Imagemap of the locations of all successful soft landings on the Moon to date

Speaking of crashing into the moon: the moon is at the center of many geopolitical interests. In the 1950s, the United States were thinking about landing on the moon to show off their technological prowess (in particular to the Soviet) but a top secret study revealed that the US also briefly considered nuking the moon, instead of landing on it. The fall off would enable scientist to study the geological make up of the moon and the flash from the nuclear explosion would create a difference on the surface of the moon that could be seen back on earth.

The first Apollo mission carried a plaque which still stays on the moon and says "Here men from the planet earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969. We came in peace for all mankind."
That same July 1969, the US was also investing in the Vietnam war. How do you reconcile this idea of coming 'in peace for all mankind' with bombing Vietnam?

The last human mission on the moon was in 1972. Since then there has only been some soft landing.

0a0a0a0a0moon_aus_4.jpg

0a0jjjjmoon2.jpg
Moon, a 2009 British science fiction film co-written and directed by Duncan Jones, was about a man on a three-year solitary stint mining helium-3 on the far side of the Moon

Since then, one of the big issues that have emerged is mining. Is mining the moon legal? Is it even desirable?

The moon might have helium-3 which could be a fuel to travel from the moon to other planets. But is it legal? The Outer Space Treaty is a bit ambiguous in that regard. It says that any activity should be carried out for the common heritage of our kind and benefit all people and all countries. The treaty therefore advises to redistribute anything that should be gained from mining. However, the fifth treaty (1979) sought to clarify some of these issued but mostly failed as only very few countries ratified it.

In 2002, China stated their moon intentions. They included establishing a base on the moon for the purpose of mining, they said that the resources that they extract would be for the benefit of humanity. What does that mean?

Stuart believes that mining will be a big issue in the future.

Another problem of the main Outer Space Treaty is that they are rooted in a state-centric language. Many people are curious about the companies that sell plots of land on the moon and other celestial bodies. The outer space treaty says that no nation state may lay claim on a celestial body. So does that give green light to individuals, corporations or private partnership? Stuart doesn't believe so. We are only now learning to deal with the fact that it's not just states that are planning to go into outer space. Wealthy individuals and corporations are looking at it too. Outer space law still have to catch up with that.

Kosmica Full Moon Party Part 5, Kevin Fong

Kevin Fong, a space medicine expert and the co-director of the Centre for Aviation Space and Extreme Environment Medicine (CASE Medicine), at University College London, talked more generally about exploration.

There aren't any wide space left to explore on the surface of the Earth. A hundred years ago, however, there were still many places where humans had never been (South Polar region, some of the highest mountains, etc.) Now we've explored the earth, the air, we've even been to the moon. What happens next?

We're a bit blasé about the future. Going to the moon doesn't look like a big deal anymore now.
But in context, going on the moon was a terrible thing to do. Millions of American tax dollars were spent, 5% of the country GDP, were spent on sending people into space when people (in and out of the country) were starving and unable to afford healthcare.


John F. Kennedy at Rice University ("We choose to go to the moon in this decade"), September 12, 1962

There are some myths regarding the public attitude about moon exploration. It is said that everybody was really into it in the 1960s and then everyone lost interest. But in fact, research shows that approval for the Apollo mission never reached 50% amongst members of the U.S. until they landed on the moon and then approval reached a high point for a couple of weeks and then went back down again. So people weren't so enthusiastic about sending men to the moon.

Why did we go to the moon? We already know that it was a surrogate battlefield for a war that could not be fought in any other way. And some of the people who were the architects of Apollo had actually been around during some of the most atrocious moments of the 20th century. And if they didn't take part in it, they were certainly aware of it and did nothing to stop it. Some of them even probably were 'card-carrying nazis' until the day they died. Yet, we celebrate them in a revised history. And some of the research actually emerges from the V2 rocket. We look for vision and inspiration when actually the mission comes from some of the darkest pages of human history.

Was Apollo worth it? Someone said that Apollo was an aberration and that it was a piece of 21st century that was dragged into the 20th. Which is why we never went back. It was just too hard to do and it was too soon. And that is the way that most explorations are done.

We see romanticism behind most explorations. According to Fong, the exploration of any time doesn't make sense to the rational people of the same time. When you look back at the great explorations of the past, it's the same story. It's some imperial power leading their effort through their military, usually at great expense and great risk of human life.

An illustration of this theory is Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe between 1518 and 1522. In 1518, Ferdinand Magellan can't convince Portugal to support his expedition project so he goes to rival Spain and sails with 5 ships and about 280 sailors. The whole expedition is a real ordeal. 3 mutinies, 4 ships lost, Magellan dies before the completion of the expedition and the only ship that manages to get back to Seville is sailed by only 18 men. In fact, Magellan had not even intended to circumnavigate the world, but to find a secure way to the Spice Islands. Yet, we remember this episode as being a glorious page of history and we recognise it as an important stepping stone. But the men at the time probably thought that too high a cost had to be paid. To Fong, you can only love the exploration of a moment so that people of the future will vicariously enjoy it on your behalf later.

So is this the point when human exploration stops? When we come to realize that it is too expensive and comes at too high a human price?

The Moon is the furthest point we've ever been from the earth. How will history see project Apollo? We will either see it as we see Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe as an important step along a much longer journey or we will see it as we see the pyramids, an amazing achievement but "Why the hell did they do that?"

Image on the homepage from Moon, a 2009 British science fiction film about a man on a three-year solitary stint mining helium-3 on the far side of the Moon.

Previously: Should we colonize the Moon?

Sponsored by:





Starts today!

This week, Resonance 104.4FM is holding its Annual Fund-Raiser, with a series of live events, an on-line auction and special broadcasts. The reason why i'm mentioning it this year is that the radio needs your help even more than in the past : we need to secure £50,000 reserves in order to bolster our next funding application to Arts Council England, who have generously supported us for the last 11 years. The exciting bit: our programme makers and many friends have organised a variety of amazing entertainments for you - all proceeds going to Resonance. With your help we can keep our unique and exceptional broadcast service on air and advert-free!

0i0ijanekkk.jpg
Janek Schaefer

0russosolo9gor5.jpg
Yuri Suzuki, Garden of Russolo

The whole list of events is over here: Resonance104.4fm's Annual Fund-Raising Drive. I'd like to point you to a couple of evenings you might enjoy:

There are tons of music events. I know zilch about music but i do know that on Thursday 13 February, Resonance104.4fm has lined-up an impressive series of sound-art performances at Cafe Oto. There will be Janek Schaefer + Rie Nakajima + Yuri Suzuki + post-electronic research group Oscillatorial Binnage. I've no idea who curated this event but it's hard to imagine a more exciting selection. And all that for a very reasonable £8.

Also very tempting is High Tea with Max and Stacy. "Financial war reporter" Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert of The Truth About Markets will be at The Roxy for a high ­finance Q&A. That's on Sunday 16 February 4pm. Tickets are £15.

So please do come to any or all of these events. Do grab something in the online auction (i'll link to the page as soon as i have it) or make a donation. Today. Because we really need your help at Resonance104.4fm.

Photo on the homepage: Oscillatorial Binnage at the Merge festival.

The new episode of #A.I.L - artists in laboratories, the weekly radio programme about art and science i present on ResonanceFM, London's favourite radio art station, is aired tomorrow Wednesday afternoon at 4pm.

_Biological_Bakery_Dr_Bird_Close.jpg

_Skin_Mixing_Machine.jpg

_Bakery_Color_Contamination.jpg
The Biological Bakery, 2014

0G_92781.jpg
Algae Curtain, 2012

My guests in the studio will be Mathias Gmachl and Rachel Wingfield from Loop.pH. The work of the London-based studio speculates on near and far future scenarios as a way to probe at the social and environmental impact of emerging biological and technological futures. Some of their most renown projects include collaborating with a Nobel prize winner to communicate the functioning of molecular machines, designing a curtain made of algae that produce bio-fuel, setting up an edible DIY bio fab-lab for the video of Aussie band Architecture In Helsinki, creating an immersive sound and light performance that explores the field of neuroscience and investigating the possibilities of living architecture.

The radio show will be aired this Wednesday 5 February at 16:00, London time. Early risers can catch the repeat next Tuesday at 6.30 am. If you don't live in London, you can listen to the online stream or wait till we upload the episodes on soundcloud one day.

The new episode of #A.I.L - artists in laboratories, the weekly radio programme about art and science i present on ResonanceFM, London's favourite radio art station, is aired tomorrow Wednesday afternoon at 4pm.

0enter_at_own_riskw.jpg
We Colonised The Moon, Enter at Own Risk

In this episode i'm going to catch up with the ever astute and cheerful Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser from WE COLONISED THE MOON.

Their installation, performance and graphic works seek to demonstrate that the future may indeed be frightening, but also highly entertaining. Previous projects have included creating solutions for space waste by disguising satellites as asteroids, building a solar powered solarium because 'the sun dies anyway', synthesising the smell of the moon and embedding it into scratch and sniff cards. So we're going to talk space colonisation, moon smell patent and their current residency at the Republic of the Moon.

The radio show will be aired this Wednesday 29 January at 16:00, London time. Early risers can catch the repeat next Tuesday at 6.30 am. If you don't live in London, you can listen to the online stream or wait till we upload the episodes on soundcloud one day.

The new episode of #A.I.L - artists in laboratories, the weekly radio programme about art and science i present on ResonanceFM, London's favourite radio art station, is aired tomorrow Wednesday afternoon at 4pm.

0iMy Shadow_550x366.jpg
me and my shadow at the National Theatre in London. Photo credit JP Berthoin, via body>data>space (and via)

My guest in the studio will be Ghislaine Boddington, an artist researcher, dramaturge, curator and thought leader specialising in body responsive technologies. Ghislaine is also recognised as an international pioneer in full body telepresence. A co-director of the Creative Guild, she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and an Artist Research Associate at ResCen, Middlesex University since 1999. but the reason why i invited her in the studios of ResonanceFM is that Ghislaine is also the Creative Director of body>data>space, a collective of artists and designers that looks at the future of the human body and its real-time relationship to evolving global, social and technological shifts.

In this episode, we will talk about experiences in telepresence, digital culture in London and gender (im)balance in tech careers (believe it or not, we're still there!)

The radio show will be aired this Wednesday 22 January at 16:00, London time. Early risers can catch the repeat next Tuesday at 6.30 am. If you don't live in London, you can listen to the online stream or wait till we upload the episodes on soundcloud one day.

Image on the homepage: ATMOS // Outreach : Crystallising Movements.

0-GOOSEpollinaria-900.jpg
Agnes Meyer-Brandis: Moon Goose Colony, Pollinaria, 2011

On Saturday i went to The Arts Catalyst's Open Think Tank Late Breakfast, the round table discussion was part of a series of events that frame the exhibition Republic of the Moon. Both were very good. The exhibition and the panel, that is.

The round table, orchestrated by artists in residence Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser from We Colonised the Moon, explored the idea of moon colonisation from the perspective of science, politics, theology, philosophy, and art. The main question panelist were looking at was: Should We Colonise the Moon? What's the future for the Moon - theme park or quarry?

0ophotoartscat1387826881_n.jpg
Panel 'Should We Colonise the Moon? What's the future for the Moon - theme park or quarry?' on Saturday 11 at the Bargehouse. Photo by The Arts Catalyst

The first speaker was Ian Crawford, Professor of Planetary Science and Astrobiology at Birkbeck College, University of London. His research is mainly concerned with lunar science and exploration, and he has a significant interest in the future of space exploration.

Crawford started by answering the question Should We Colonise the Moon? with a simple "Yes, with caveat!"
Yes, because it would be good for the human race & for philosophy, to expand the horizons and the perspective on ourselves and on the universe.

The caveats are:
- The colonization should be an international endeavour (we don't want another Cold War space race);
- It should be regulated. Parts of the Moon and of Mars are scientifically valuable. It would be a pity if they fell into purely mercantile hands and/or became mere tourist destinations;
- The physical environment is obviously very different from the ones colons found in the US or in Australia. Genuine colonization will be difficult. It would probably start with scientific outposts, small groups of people would be sent to live on a base, like the ones currently sent for research in Antarctica. Other uses of the moon such as hotels for tourists or mining for mineral resources would have to be regulated.

The United Nations treaty about the moon currently states that no one legally owns the moon but there is a case for developing the law as private companies may want to exploit it for its minerals.

0-SHE-900.jpg
Liliane Lijn, moonmeme

The other part of the question was What's the future for the Moon - theme park or quarry?

The moon's surface area is roughly 10% bigger than Africa.
Any space colonisation should be a unifying project for humanity. A step in that direction has been made when 12 of the main space agencies around the world have published the "Global Exploration Roadmap" (PDF) which declares the international group's intention to work together to mount robotic and human missions to the moon, nearby asteroids, and to Mars.

At this point, someone in the audience (probably Rob La Frenais) asked about the limited scientific equipment that can be taken to the moon because it seems that on board, priority is given to supplies that would enable human beings to actually survive in space.

Professor Crawford explained that the moon is a completely airless environment but that there might be ways to extract lunar water and oxygen. For water, we would first need to confirm the existence of ice craters on the surface of the moon. The presence of ice would greatly facilitate colonization. Oxygen could be extracted from the very dry lunar rocks. It would, however, be a very energy intensive process.

(More about the views of Ian Crawford on Moon exploitation in The Telegraph.)

Another brilliant contribution was from Rev Dr Jeremy Law, the Dean of Chapel for Canterbury Christ Church University, who had been invited to give a theological perspective on moon colonization.

He made 3 important observations:

The Earth is a nurturing realm, whereas the moon is a life-denying environment. A human colony on the moon would be a celebration of human achievement, another triumph of humanity over nature.

A lunar colony has nothing to do with the colonization of the New World, it would mostly serve the interests of the already successful.

Finally, the economic investment required means that the narrative of capitalism (with its notions of efficiency and competition) would simply continue. Scientific research on the moon, for example, would thus be determined by those who can finance it.

Law believes that the main contribution of a lunar colony is the way it could reshape human religion on earth.

The last speaker was Benedict Singleton, a strategist with a background in design and philosophy. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Long Con, an alternative history of design, and regularly writes on the politics and philosophy of technology.

Singleton believes that we need deeper narratives to understand what it means to achieve moon colonization.

Another interesting point was raised by Sue Corke who reminded us of Thomas Austin, the man responsible for introducing rabbits in Australia. As we know, he had no idea that a few rabbits released on his estate would lead to an invasion of the country. At the time he had declared, "The introduction of a few rabbits could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting."

0aahilarious0be1_vice_630x420.jpg

Could the equivalent happen on the moon with something human colons would bring along? Rob noted that actually in 1969, the NASA put everything that came back from the Moon - from rocks to hardware to the Apollo 12 crew - in quarantine and ran tests to make sure they didn't come back covered with new and potentially harmful microbes or bacteria. As you can see in the photo above, it must have been a hilariously pleasant experience.

Of course, it was about protecting the Earth from potential moon germs. Not the opposite.

That's it for my notes about the Saturday morning panel. As for the exhibition, just go! It has humour, intelligence and it's also really good art. You don't often get all these ingredients mixed in one show.

Agnes Meyer-Brandis is teaching geese how to fly to the moon, Leonid Tishkov never travels without his own personal moon, Katie Paterson has Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata reflected from the moon's surface via Earth, Liliane Lijn plans to write on the Moon using a laser beam, WE COLONISED THE MOON run a series of workshops and events as the Republic of the Moon's official art residents.

0-TISHKOVformosa-900.jpg
Leonid Tishkov, Private Moon in Formosa

0leonid-tishkov-private-moon_roof-winter_.jpg
Leonid Tishkov, Private Moon, 2009

0-TISHKOVmoscow-900.jpg
Leonid Tishkov, Private Moon Moscow studio of the artist

0-MOONanalogue-900.jpg
Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Moon Goose Analogue

0io-MOON-SHELL-900.jpg
WE COLONISED THE MOON, Live Moon Smelling by artists in residence in Republic of the Moon, London 2014

0erP1260224.jpg
Katie Paterson, Earth-Moon-Earth

There's only a few days left to listen to Nicola Triscott and Ian Crawford discussing Moon ownership on BBC radio 4.

Republic of the Moon is on view until 2 February 2014 at the temporary residence of The Arts Catalyst: Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf on London's South Bank.

 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10 
sponsored by: