GAM 2019 Blog

by Daniela de Paulis

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Global Astronomy Month has just started and like every year, the love for astronomy and the fascination for the night sky is bringing together our global community through science, art and culture.

I joined Astronomers Without Borders in 2010 and I saw this fantastic organization continue growing over the years and attract more and more talented contributors from all over the world, with our activities reaching astronomy enthusiasts, professional astronomers, artists, students, children, people of all cultures and age. When I joined AWB in 2010, I presented my project OPTICKS for the first time as an online event and this truly changed the way I work as an artist: the possibility of reaching thousands of people in real time through my work and engaging them, by reflecting off the Moon their images, immediately felt incredibly more powerful to me than exhibiting in an art gallery. The people watching and participating in OPTICKS are truly the protagonists of the event.

Thanks to the AWB global community, the performance reaches countries I could not possibly reach with my work. OPTICKS has become a virtual meeting place where astronomers speak with artists and are joined by people from our global community, who share their memories with each other through photos.

Since GAM in 2018, OPTICKS has been presented in collaboration with the Pauline Oliveros Trust. Pauline Oliveros was a celebrated experimental composer, also the first artist to use the Moon Bounce technology in her work. In her performance 'Echoes from the Moon,' she played her accordion and reflected sounds of her music off the Moon's surface in real time. At the end of each performance, she had people from the audience queuing to talk to the Moon and back in real time. People were thrilled by the thought of hearing their own voices traveling to the Moon, touching its surface and hearing their echoes distorted by the long journey and by the Moon's craters. Also for me, the first time I spoke through a radio transmitter to the Moon, the experience was extremely touching, especially as it happened in real time. Radio waves are the spaceships of our time and the carriers of much cultural content, they allow us to touch far away celestial bodies and to receive images of far away worlds.

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The work of Pauline Oliveros, together with my interest in space and astronomy, triggered my idea of sending images to the Moon and back, instead of voices back in 2009. The idea turned into a completely innovative way of using this old technology in amateur radio: sending images to the Moon and back in fact, has become a real thing in international amateur radio, although I always think of it as a purely artistic and poetic journey. For me, this is important reason I contributed and created what I call, "Visual Moon Bounce," which is a part of a process in which humans are directly represented by their desires, memories, thoughts and when technology becomes a bridge for poetic human connection. An image is possibly the most expressive form of communication amongst humans and the Visual Moon Bounce technology takes this communication as far as 800,000km, our distance to the Moon and back.

The upcoming performance on the 12 April, will be the 10th anniversary of OPTICKS and I will be celebrating it by reflecting off the Moon images inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. Images can be direct memories of the event or inspired by it. I will be collaborating once again with Carole Ione, poet and theatre maker, who will be reading some of her poetry and will be playing some of her music during our Facebook live event.

At the end of the show, we will offer a tribute to inspirational Pauline Oliveros by re-enacting, for the second year in a row, a twenty-first century version of her 'Echoes from the Moon.' I can't wait!

Please join me and the OPTICKS/Echoes from the Moon team on the 12 April at 20:00 CEST, live on Facebook from the cabin of the Dwingeloo radio telescope in The Netherlands, and live everywhere on planet E


Daniela de Paulis is a media artist, licensed radio operator (IU0IDY) and trained radio telescope operator. Since October 2009, she has been artist in residence at the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope where she has developed the Visual Moonbounce technology. Since 2010 she has been collaborating with a number of international organisations, including Astronomers Without Borders, for which she is the founder and director of the Arts programme. She is member of the permanent international SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) committee, the only worldwide forum for SETI scientists, and member of the METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) advisory panel. She is a regular contributor for the Wow! Signal Podcast. She has published her work with the Leonardo MIT Journal, Inderscience and Cambridge University Press, amongst others.  Visit Daniela's website to learn more. DanielaDePaulis 150