Origins of the Moon

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Testing the round-ness of our sphere with the BCTC welding clan.

We’ve developed an interest in spheres. Simple and pleasant shapes, spherical sculptures comprise a large foundation of public art in many cities around the world. Is this because the sphere is geometrically pleasing to the eye? Or because spheres are a naturally occurring perfect shape? Or perhaps because spherical work can be viewed on all sides and from all angles?  Whatever the reason, spherical art is so prevalent that it is almost a genre unto itself. And we love it. SOLAR FLARE and NEW MOON attempt to embrace the sphere, and explore its relationship with the natural world and celestial bodies far above.

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(Look like anything familiar?)

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With SOLAR FLARE, we discussed how building an artificial sun is a natural place to begin making light art. Similarly, sculptures taking on the form of the moon claim their own category in the light art world. Some or our recent favourites include the following:

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Private Moon, a traveling sculpture by artists Leonid Tishkov & Boris Bendikov. They have a beautiful series of these photos, which should not be missed. You can see more here.

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Rising Moon, a pavilion created from thousands upon thousands of recycled 5-gallon water bottles by architects Daydreamers Design. The scale of this pavilion is immense, and viewers at the Hong Kong Lantern Wonderland Festival were invited inside the piece to engage with the temporary structure. After the festival, the entire form was recycled – an exercise in sustainability.

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Light Bulb to Simulate Moonlight by artist Katie Paterson, an incandescent light bulb collaboratively designed by the artist and lighting engineers to exactly replicate the colour-temperature and brightness of moonlight. The artist created a collection of these bulbs, timed to burn for the average period of one human life – essentially building a life-time’s supply of moonlight.

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Artificial Moon, a suspended light sculpture created from fluorescent light bulbs by artist Wang Yuyang. Perhaps the most similar to NEW MOON, our CLOUD works have been compared to Yuyang’s work on many blogs in the past. This work was inevitably something we referenced and discussed when beginning to design NEW MOON. While we love Artificial Moon, we were careful to differentiate our sculpture from Yuyang’s through the kinetic, material, and interactive elements of the piece – although we can not help but admire the simple and unabashed solution of using a crane to suspend the sculpture!

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With these works in the backs of our minds, we began our own quest towards building an artificial moon, leaning towards an interest in the moon’s connection with time, and the potential for audience interactivity to create a new understanding of said time through perspective and movement.

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The form and composition of the sculpture were largely designed in response to the thousands of donated light bulbs contributed by Lexington communities. We mapped and loosely marked the craters of the moon, which were filled with the darker and bluer burnt out bulbs in our collection.

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Because the sculpture was created with a legion of volunteers, BCTC students, and LAL interns, each contributor lent an element of personal randomness to the final aesthetic of the work. We tweaked things here and there ever so slightly, but it’s generally more appealing to everyone (and more interesting) to allow a decent amount of collaborative flexibility, even in a regimented process like bulbing.

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This was when the sculpture legitimately began to take form – bright orange caveman-in-the-moon and all … (cough, SHAWN, cough)

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After the frame was adequately bulbed, we began some simple lighting tests. (Believe me, this blog is like a cooking show when the head chef magically pulls a fully-baked lasagne out of the oven after 5-minutes of screen time – PRESTO! It takes much longer than it looks…)

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Light is at the heart of NEW MOON, especially the eclipse-style aesthetic of the sculpture. Brightness and colour temperature are important to us, but NEW MOON also explores the too often forgotten side of light art – darkness and shadow.

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The dark side of the moon is created through extremely analog technology – essentially a large spinning mirrored plate, inlaid with 40 bright white compact fluorescent light bulbs. For the final rendition of the sculpture, this disk will provide the interactive element of NEW MOON – audiences will be invited to manipulate the phases of the moon by collaborative spinning a big metal wheel.

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The more light art we create together, the more relative the origin of our works become. Perhaps that’s why it’s easiest to dig our toes into the ground and gaze into the sky above us, trying our best to catch the sun, the moon, the clouds… an attempt that always seems to end with a big shiny object, nothing more than a glimmering tribute to the real thing. We aren’t the only artists seeking celestial enlightenment, but we’re happy to contribute to their ranks. After all, what’s more mysterious than the sky above and all her hidden mysteries?

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