Sasha Jaffrey’s artwork will be on the moon ‘forever’

Written by Nadia Lee-Hewitson, CNN

In 1977, the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Their mission was to explore the solar system and beyond. On board each was a “golden record,” a copper phonograph disc containing images, nature sounds, and music to provide a snapshot of life on Earth to any intelligent life the ship might encounter. These were the first images sent into outer space.
Now that Voyagers are traveling in interstellar space, artists are beginning to explore what they can do beyond Earth. In March, a work by Dubai-based artist and philanthropist Sasha Jaffrey will land on the moon.

Jaffrey’s work, “We Rise Together — By the Light of the Moon,” is slated to fly into space on a United Launch Alliance rocket powered by engines developed by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. The launch is scheduled to take place at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the first week of March.

The work is an engraving depicting a male and female figure surrounded by 88 hearts.

“The original artwork was this beautiful heart motif. Two figures intertwined, rejoining, and around them there is blooming flora, fauna,” Jaffrey explained. He says he wanted to capture “the unification of humanity through love and empathy” in his design.

“We Rise Together — By the Light of the Moon” by Sasha Jaffrey. credit: Selensky

For his canvas, a gold alloy was developed over two years to withstand the extreme environment of the lunar surface while keeping the artwork intact. But the work isn’t just for lovers of alien art.

“When we land the physical artwork on the moon, a faint beep sounds in the control room,” Jaffrey said. At this signal, 88 NFTs will be released for sale back to Earth.

Jaffrey plans to donate all proceeds to humanitarian charities. “I hope to raise a huge amount of money for the four main charitable concerns of our world – health, education, sustainability and equality,” he said.

The work was commissioned by Spacebit, a UK-based company that develops space robotics technology and data analysis tools, and will be sent to the Moon by Spacebit and NASA Commercial Payload Services (CLPS). UAE-based company Selenian Network, which specializes in blockchain technology, will facilitate the launch of NFT.

A lunar rover will place the work in a crater known as Lacus Mortis (Lake of Death), where it will remain “for eternity.” According to Jaffrey, the mission will take between five days and two weeks to reach the moon, depending on conditions.

The art of the ISS

Jaffrey’s piece isn’t the only piece of art to leave Earth in recent years. In 2017, a piece by Israeli artist Eyal Gever was 3D printed on the International Space Station [ISS]. Gever collected recordings of laughter and used the sound waves to create his sculpture.

In April of last year, another Israeli artist, Liat Segal, and Yasmin Meroz, a physicist at Tel Aviv University, created a work of art that could only exist in space.

Exploiting the lack of gravity in space, “Impossible Object” is a multi-layered structure of gold-colored metal tubes emitting water. On Earth, the water fell to the ground, but in space it created floating elements around the sculpture.

It was activated when the ISS was orbiting about 400 kilometers above Earth. Meroz and Segal predicted that water could wrap around the structure, forming a liquid shell, but in practice it behaves quite differently, forming floating globules.

Object Impossible by Liat Segal and Yasmin Meroz. credit: Eytan Stibbe and Rakia Art Mission (Ramon Foundation)

“We didn’t know what the dynamics of water would be in microgravity — what does a piece of water look like?” Segal said. “We are used to filling our hands with water, filling vessels. In this case, the water is not held by any vessel. It is only held by this skeletal structure.”

As artists get creative in the space, Segal expects innovation.

“Many technologies were developed as a result of the space race to adapt to a new physical reality,” Segal added. “Now art and culture can enter this new physical reality. It will force the creation of things that we cannot expect, that could not happen otherwise.”

Jaffrey is also enthusiastic about the creative possibilities and believes that private space missions will open up new opportunities for artists. “I think people are taking advantage of their obsession with space,” he said. “It’s a new market that the art world can tap into.”

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