Selected Artist, Giant Steps Competition & Exhibition
Exhibition March 3 – April 3, 2016, King Street Station
Artist Concept: Robert Hutchison
Conceptual Team: Robert Hutchison, Scott Claassen, Siyu Qu, David Hutchison
Exhibition Team: Robert Hutchison, Wenjing Zhang, Xiaoxi Jiao, Kejia Zhang
It is little known that during all of the Apollo moon landings, while two astronauts would touch down on the moon in a lunar module, one astronaut would remain in the command module, tasked with firing the main rocket engine to keep the craft’s orbital path aligned with the lunar module’s landing site. I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to be completely alone in that command module, passing from lunar day to lunar night every other hour. As Apollo 16’s command module pilot Ken Mattingly has stated, “I can’t imagine bouncing across the surface of the Moon being as personally exhilarating as being solo in spacecraft over the back side of the Moon.”
If I had this blissful opportunity, I would just want to draw, as I gaze at the surface of the moon and the black cosmos beyond. But I would want to draw something for everyone on Earth to see, while I am drawing it.
My proposal resists the urge to walk on the surface of the moon. Instead, I propose to execute a three-dimensional drawing while in orbit around the moon during my 48 hour visit. Based on an assumed complete orbit time of two hours, I anticipate having the opportunity to complete 24 orbits of the moon. The instrument that I will use to construct my drawing will be the orbiting command module itself. The pigment for my drawing will be water expelled periodically behind the orbiting command module; through the process of desublimation, the water will turn into vapor and then immediately pass into a cloud of very fine ice crystals. The canvas for my drawing will be space itself.
My drawing will temporarily transform the moon into the universally recognized diagram of the atom, alluding to the structure of the universe itself. Through four different orbits around the moon, (performing six passes for each orbit), the constructed lines of ice particles will appear as four rings encircling the moon. My visit will occur approximately between the third and fifth day of the waxing crescent moon, so that there is less light reflecting off of the moon, thereby allowing the orbital drawings to be seen more easily by all of earth’s inhabitants.
The only cargo necessary for my mission is water. All of my maximum cargo payload of 60 kg will be devoted to water (constituting approximately 2 cubic feet of volume). Additional water required to complete the drawing will be provided in lieu of the fuel savings generated by not landing on the moon. (The Apollo Lunar Module descent stage required 19,500 pounds of fuel, and the ascent stage required 5,200 pounds of fuel, for a total of 24,700 pounds, or 11,200 kg, of weight savings that could be substituted with water).
Over several days or weeks, the drawing will gradually fade as the halos of ice crystals are dispersed by solar winds and evaporated by solar radiation. By the next new moon, the drawing will remain only a memory.