I am interested in trying to uncover completely novel proofs to ideas that no longer need to be proved.
I met a man named Jeff while I was hitchhiking on another continent. We drove from one end of it to the other, through a large desert where we watched thunderstorms roll along the horizon and, two days later, flowers bloom everywhere.
Years before we met, Jeff was deep in the jungle. It was the 20th of July in 1969 when he heard over the shortwave radio that Apollo 11 had brought a man to the moon. At the time, he was living with a remote tribe of people who had had little contact with the wider world, conducting anthropological research. That night, around the campfire, he mentioned it to one of the shamans in the village…
The man smiled at him and asked calmly, “Did he stay long?”
“Umm… No,” was Jeff’s response.
“It’s very hard to breathe up there,” the shaman replied, knowingly sifting a bit of ash from the campfire through his fingers, “and very dusty.” Unimpressed by this feat of technological innovation, the shaman went on to explain that he traveled to the moon on a regular basis via other means.
There were several other moon landings in the years following Apollo 11, but no manned spacecraft has been on the moon since 1972. The costs are difficult to justify, despite the fact that, presumably, the technology has only improved. For American of the 1960’s, nationalism had been a strong motivating factor.
When Jeff told me this story about his shaman friend and the moon, I was at a crossroads, both personally and professionally. It was one of a number of jolts to my worldview that occurred through my twenties. This particular one was when I shifted the way I identified myself from scientist to artist. At the time, I was dreaming of a worldview that was coherent and my mind could make sense of. Now, I’m striving to make images of worlds that are nearly impossible to reconcile with our own. I am making worlds that can only exist in a photograph, this strange mirror of our own planet.
I’m not certain if Jeff’s shaman friend still travels there by his undisclosed means. But I am fascinated by the idea of this other route to the moon. Often, there are an infinite variety of routes to the same goal, and the technology that we reach these ends through is normally just one possible solution.