LUNATION: Art on the Moon
Observatory (543 Union St., Brooklyn)
Artists and scientists have always been attracted to the moon…
Our closest celestial neighbor, the earth’s little sister, the moon creates the tides and illuminates the woods at night. For centuries, humanity believed the moon provided a key into the invisible realm: it called out the beast within us, freeing us to act as wolves, to run, to dance, to chant—and sometimes (as in Duncan Jones’ Moon) to split in two, to find our double, our changeling moon-self.
Is the moon home to life? Today we know it isn’t, but even as of 1830, speculation was rampant that the moon was inhabited by Christianized bat-people who worshiped in great ziggurats. (See The Sun and the Moon by Observatory alumnus Matthew Goodman for details.) Still, life comes to the moon. We know the moon contains frozen water, and we dream of using it as our jumping-off point for visiting even more alien vistas.
Down here, despite all the prowess and nuance of our latest telescopes, earthlings still look up naked-eyed with excitement at the full moon. Lovers and children gaze up at its slowly blinking façade in mute wonder. Artists portray the moon as a source of danger and power, and latter-day sorceresses and men of magic call up to that heavenly lamp, seeking to transcend the ordinary night. For them, the old myths have not changed so much: the moon is still a secret mirror, showing in pale light how the familiar contains always an element of the unexpected…