Three decades after “a small step for man,” the countdown is on for an ambitious art project to offer viewers around the world a mythic digital simulation of the first human landing on the Moon.
If all goes according to schedule for Benjamin Britton, associate professor of electronic art at the University of Cincinnati, and his team of graphics and networking specialists, the project will make its debut on July 20 in the form of a limited edition DVD-ROM disc and a Web site (www.moon.uc.edu). Britton says that while one of the aims of “Moon” is to dispel conspiracy theories that the Apollo 11 landings were a hoax, is mostly historically accurate piece does take liberties. Not only will the audience be able to witness the touchdown on the lunar surface in detailed, computer-generated graphics from the point of view of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but participants will also be able to see the 1969 event through the eyes of Richard Nixon in the White House. “As a child,” Britton explains, “I remember seeing the Moon landing on he same television screen as all these other characters.” In a surreal touch, the heavenly viewpoint of the late John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe are among the perspectives available.
The virtual humans in the latest demo footage from this work-in-progress are somewhat blocky three-dimensional figures requiring tremendous suspension of disbelief. Artist/academic Britton doesn’t mind:”It’s the Veil of Isis’-the idea that any representation of the truth by humans has to be imperfect. Like a classic statue of the goddess Isis in Egypt, all you can do is make the veil as thin as possible, and make it beautiful.”