Last fall, harnessing the connective power of internet, artists Ai Weiwei and Olafur Eliasson introduced Moon, an interactive project that transcends nationality, language, and even the physical world. The evolving collaboration represents the unlimited potential of the Internet to act as mass connector, including an open online interface where visitors can mark (almost like graffiti), explore, and even traverse through a digital moonscape. To coincide with today's relaunch of a newer and more innovative Moon site, which now offers visitors the chance to act as virtual curator, watch our exclusive look at the inspiration behind the project above.
Originally unveiled at Berlin’s annual Falling Walls conference, Moon offers a platform for visitors around the world to literally leave their stamp on the lunar body. In our documentary, The Creators Project investigated the genesis of this project, shining a light on the transcendent power of digital technology to bridge together our modern society.
According to Moon curator Marcello Pisu, visitors will now be able to "collect their favorite marks, and share these collections on their social networks. We decided to integrate this feature when we found out that people spend a lot of time exploring the Moon to find the creations that resonate the most for them," continues Pisu. This new version also introduces user profiles and avatars so that, according to Pisu "on the Moon everybody determines and owns his or her own identity.”
At this time over 35,000 visitors have chosen to leave their mark on the moon.
Since the project can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection, its egalitarian quality symbolizes the importance of an individual’s power to impact the greater world. “The main inspiration of the Moon is the democratization of the creative and artistic process, and the encouragement of a constructive visual dialogue," says Pisu.
No living artist today better embodies these qualities than Chinese sculptor, writer, and polyglot creative Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei, a friend of the Danish/Icelandic Eliasson for over a decade, took part in the Falling Walls conference via satellite, further demonstrating the connecting power of the web.
Eliasson introduces Ai Weiwei at this year's Falling Walls conference in Berlin.
The moon, like the Internet, in many ways exists beyond the reach and control of the government, and thus provides a perfect metaphor for their experiment in mass mobilization. “It’s the idea that the moon represents something unconscious from society,” Ai Weiwei recently explained to Artnews.
Eliasson also mentioned that, “The moon is interesting because it’s a not yet habitable space so it’s a fantastic place to put your dreams." As the duo wrote in the introduction to the project, “Creativity defies boundaries. Ideas, wind, and air no one can stop.”
“The moon is really about a feeling we have of space, in that it doesn’t have any boundaries. Doesn’t have any walls. Doesn’t have any religious boundaries, or political boundaries,” Eliasson noted during Falling Walls. “So it will be accessible to all, and will be increasingly accessible as time goes.”
In some ways this project could even be said to mirror the evolution of the Internet—as it grows and takes on more of a presence, we will become intrinsically linked to its orbit, and mass dissemination of ideas. A quote from Ai Weiwei aptly summarizes the project's significance: “There are no walls that can stop an idea. “
One of the many marks left on the moon, the bottom left a reference to Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds project.
That this momentous project should debut at the Falling Walls conference is no coincidence. The summit was inspired by the dramatically shifting events of 1989's Berlin Wall/Cold War collapse, and the question of the annual event has become Which walls will fall next? Falling Wall has consistently provided a fertile breeding ground for discussions on new groundbreaking research and innovation, and has included diverse participants such as artist Tomás Saraceno and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
As Eliasson mentioned in his speech at the conference, the project is not just a celebration of how technology can break barriers between art and digital, time and place, but also can serve as a call to action. “We have facilitated for you a sphere on which you can make a mark. Not just to make a mark, but make a mark that matters to you. Make your wish, make your dream. Do something."
Conceptualized in part with the help of developers Shahar Zaks and Lucas Werthein, the project was originally created to help bridge Berlin, China, and New York. With its success, it's proven to have a truly global reach--and a popular one at that. With this new version, it will be easier to spot some of the shining gems of the project.
According to Pisu "the featured marks, that we select regularly among the submissions for the poignancy of the message and the quality of the execution, are more prominent now, and they will be the first thing you’ll see when landing on the Moon. These marks should inspire other marks, also thanks to a more integrated tagging system…Now users will be able to curate and collect their favorite marks, and share these collections on their social networks."
For those curious about Moon's next steps, Pisu tells us "We are brainstorming on how to bring the Moon 'on earth' with an installation or a whole exhibition: be sure with Ai and Olafur that it will be another ambitious creation."