Moon Analogies

2013, Installation & Website

Moon Analogies is an interactive installation residing in both physical and digital spaces simultaneously. The project began by viewing a specific lunar mission from here on earth. The Ranger 8 mission flew a satellite mounted camera directly at the moon in a research endeavor to find viable future landing sights for a manned mission. Scientists then took as many photos as possible until collision with the lunar surface. I realized in studying this documentation that understanding the vastness of this event was impossible. I desired to comprehend its extreme distances, speeds, temperatures, etc., but realized that simply visualizing it the way I had in the past—by making a provocative data visualization—did not provide me the opportunity to truly understand it. A data visualization so often is only another veil of complexity. It may be a beautiful veil, but not necessarily a productive means to actually understand and relate to the material. I desired an empirical way to experience the mission and relate the vastness of outer space to myself and my personal space. This project explored ways to tell these complex narratives, which allowed and forced the visitor to activate from a personal level, in the hopes that the encounter would change their understanding of outer space in their everyday lives.

To expand on this desire, three large scale representations of lunar missions were abstractly rendered in different spaces throughout Providence, RI. These were spaces I was familiar with, places I visited often and could understand in relation to myself. Visitors were invited to explore these scaled representations with no prescribed description of their creation. The abstract nature of the pieces allowed the audience to form their own expectations and conclusions based on their personal interaction with the space.

Concurrently, the space was documented from above and the imagery acted as the backdrop for a website. After their initial experience, visitors were invited to explore the digital counterpart. Here, the space became concrete, the information visuals, data, and video were accessible by clicking through the space the visitors were just in. These two separate interactions then allow the visitor return to the physical space with the embedded knowledge of what that space means on a larger scale and what their personal spaces imply in larger settings.

The project challenges the expectation that addition is the only way to augment. By separation and compartmentalization of information, rather than simply adding additional layers, more memorable and informative experiences are possible. It also questions the potential relationship between real and virtual. In this state, the threshold is solid, augmenting by absolute separation. It explores how memory and physical relation translates each step and proposes the importance of personalization in data driven representation and visualization.

By comparing the individual events and physically curating the narrative and data, the visitor now holds on to that analogy. They understand the scale relationship on a personal level and they take that with them. The distance between them and a friend is no longer about feet and inches, it is about lightyears, snapshots, landing sites, and more. The data is engrained in their experiences, not simply layered on top.