Full Moon

A full moon hangs in the cloudless night sky, its bright light overshadowing the glitters of the stars. From the gray surface of the moon that is covered with lunar craters, a clear white light shines, illuminating the whole world in the night. Sometimes, we can even see a friendly face from the moon – she is smiling at us.

Like most other people in the world, Wang Yuyang is obsessed with the changes and magic power of the moon. In the project The Moon Landing Program exhibited in Beijing Arario Gallery in 2007, Wang spent a lot of money to put a virtual space travel and moon landing onto the stage. The distant outer space seemed to be within reach. In the spring of 2008, in the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Wang used hundreds of energy saving lamps and other illuminants to create a huge artificial moon. The huge lamp ball looked like a full moon, producing attractive light. It seems to be within reach but is actually distant and untouchable; however, it imposes great influence on our living on the earth – in this way does the moon incessantly become a part of the history of culture and our life.

The moon is always a critical element in the calendar. Since the very beginning of humankind, the moon has been interpreted as a magic company of the earth. For thousands of years, her changes have been told and retold. In the mysterious cosmology in Europe in medieval times, the orbit of moon was considered as a separator line between the eternity (superlunar) and the past (lunar) worlds. The influences of the moon on earth are also attractive as they can not only be reflected by the tides but also be proved by the creatures that lived thousands of years ago. There are even imaginary interactions between phases of the moon and menstruation of females.

What exactly the moon is? It is the only satellite of the earth. A sphere 3,476 km in diameter, it is the fifth largest satellite in the solar system. It circles the Earth once every 273,217 days and the average distance from it to the Earth is 363,200 kilometers. It weighs 7349•1022 kilograms and its gravitational acceleration is 1,62m/s2 (1/6 of that on the Earth). Furthermore, the moon is the only celestial body that the human beings have succeeded in landing (and this status may last for many years to come). The moon landing, as space navigation, or a space travel, was once an issue on which the fiercest competition among superpowers took place, and it was a challenge in cold war, which is embodied by the moon landing of Apollo 11 and Neil Amstrong on July 20, 1969. In the following three years, 12 Americans landed on the moon.

The most thrilling of all journeys and expeditions—the missions of the Apollo astronauts to the surface of the Moon and back – yielded 32,000 extraordinarily beautiful photographs, the record of a unique human achievement. Thirty years later, NASA has allowed a selection of 1200 of its master Apollo negatives and transparencies to be taken offsite for digital scanning, rendering the sharpest images of space that we have yet seen.

From this selection, American photographer Michael Light has woven 129 images into a single composite voyage, a narrative of breathtaking immediacy and authenticity that begins with the launch and is followed by a walk in space, an orbit of the Moon, a lunar landing and extensive exploration, and a return to Earth with an orbit and splashdown.

Experience the images as more than a spectacle, experientially conveying the excitement, disorientation, and awe that the astronauts themselves felt as they were shot into space, explored an alien landscape, and finally looked back at their home planet from hundreds of thousands of miles away.

From an angle similar to that of Michael Light when he processed the pictures of NASA, Wang Yuyang also processed the study and exploration of the moon as historic and artistic subjects. He well prepared all the materials needed, and finally treated the moon as a real spatial plastic art to be observed. In their processing of the images, both artists commemorated and reconstructed direct and memorable experiences in their works. The simulated environment of the moon travel was made in accordance with files and documentaries and it included all tools needed in the landing. Wang directly aims at exploring the matter of seemingly incredible faith. Have human beings really landed on the moon? Aren’t there numerous evidences proving that human beings have told a monstrous lie? Entrusted by the Pentagon to make incitement, the Dreamworks Studio independently created the moon landing. Wang Yuyang presented this conspiracy theory in a sarcastic way but at the same time showed the fascination of probabilities provided by the high technologies in today’s research labs. Although the results have never been known (even Teflon is not a product of the moon program), the moon landing program is needed by the humankind – certainly, from the perspective of photography, compared to the infinite eternity of the universe, it is more memorable to have a glimpse of our blue earth from the moon.

The “moon” created by Wang Yuyang consists of numerous illuminants. It is created as commemoration of the historic significances of the moon travel as well as the 1960s, including the Hippie socialism that was against the Vietnam War, the sexual liberation movement and “The summer of love.” From the modern point of view, the designs and fashion of the 1960s were incompatible with the silver foil of the moon travellers and at that time, the moon had little influence. Therefore, both Michael Light and Wang Yuyang have found their ways consistent with their times – the ways to experience through the beautiful and fascinating light the desire of humankind to explore the universe as well as the eternal matters of the meaning of life. And the immaterial representation and energy of light can connect each of us with the sun and put us into the orbit of the sun.

Actually, Wang Yuyang plays a little trick here, and we can tacitly realize that his moon, as an exhibit, becomes the shining star – the sun. The cold and pure white light of the energy saving lamps and silver reflector is so clean and translucent that it is real as the light shone from the sun and then reflected by the full moon. It takes eight minutes for the light to travel from the sun to the moon and then takes exactly one second from the moon to the Earth – simple, pure and clear physical attributes, together with the gorgeous and fine magic power.

Gregor Jansen