Moonfarming - an Illustrated Encyclopedia
above: a selection of images from the project, including the skin of a V2 rocket in London (left), a rephotographed impression of a human foot on the moon, (middle), and a leaf from the Philadelphia moon tree (top left below)
"You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory"
- Johnny Thunders
Moonfarming: an Illustrated Encyclopedia is an experiment in multi dimensional storytelling, exploring nostalgia, data, and the common need for a place of fantasy. An ongoing project, and my largest to date, it incorporates text, photographs, and objects. Intended as a set of compensatory gestures for dreams dashed and plans deferred, Moonfarming's subject is the moon of NASA (and Gagarin) but pushed into a turgid present. The texts are concise and the objects apologetic yet hopeful (if not helpful): garish "printed" 3D plastic rocks to replace the moon rocks lost on earth, for instance. The photographs function as a distancing mechanism - like new forms of punctuation, or opaque connectors that branch at odd junctions - problematizing and opening the work to allow varied readings. Questions of particular concern to me are how to fill and convey absence (the unrealized utopian dreams not only of the hippies but their counterparts in the military-industrial complex) and how to compensate for this disappointment (by the creation of new narratives).
A unifying, if unobvious theme is the function of the rocket as an agent of disruptive change, moving both forward into space, and backward, literally through earth and time. Such is the case of the V2 rockets that destroyed huge sections of London during World War II. Developed by Wernher von Braun, a principal engineer in both the Nazi weapons program and, later, the American space program, V2 rockets uncovered ancient and long buried artifacts whilst creating the devastation for which they are known.
A further irony is the fact that the once-futuristic physical objects of the space program are now mostly lost to history and are the subjects of archives. There is no other documentation aside from the official version, and so I started with these, rephotographing NASA footage and reading transcripts; finding analogues along the way; starting the trajectory to fantasy: to experimental archaeologies and alternate histories.
above: installation view, 808 Gallery, Boston University, 2015