Mesmeric names; images of fakery; quicksilver light; and the nightmare of the uncanny…
On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing utk considers how the enduring relationship with our nearest neighbour still continues to influence our imagination.
utk is Liz Hall, Tony Kemplen, Jane Mellor and Bev Stout
Fifty years ago our world view altered. On 20th July 1969, the Apollo 11 moon landing took place generating a cultural shift in how we view ourselves and our place within the cosmos. In many ways the Apollo legacy has been overshadowed, lunar exploration has lost the political frenzy of the Space Race in the 1960s, between the USA and the then USSR, but
Throughout history and for all cultures the moon has been a symbol of an
other-worldliness, an observable representation of how we fit into the universe. It has been
part of creation myths and has featured in our darkest nightmares and we have projected our beliefs and fantasies onto it.
It has also always been the subject of scientific study, viewed through the contextual knowledge of each culture. With the development of the telescope its features could be mapped, named and categorised, and more importantly, it became something that was not so out of reach.
When the first grainy images of Neil Armstrong’s slow motion jump onto the moon’s surface beamed into our living rooms we became, in theory, no longer bound to the surface of the earth. We could look out into a potent future. Yet it also gave us cause to look inwards to our fragility and our failings, and the words of Apollo 14’s Edwin Mitchell seem perhaps more pertinent now than ever before,
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’ ”
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