A glowing miniature lunar module landed at the Art Institute of Chicago last month, and it will be illuminating the roof throughout the spring. Lunar is the latest installation by Brooklyn-based artist Spencer Finch, who wanted to recreate moonlight using solar technology. Powered by two photovoltaic panels, the space-inspired sculpture generates energy from the sun during the day, which is used at night to run LED lights within its buckyball structure. The color and brightness of the sculpture is exactly the same as the color and brightness of a full moon over Chicago in July of 2011.
Finch has long been fascinated with the moon, specifically the light cast off of our “night light” in the sky. In July 2011, Finch took his trusty colorimeter, a device that measures the average color and temperature of light in a specific place, to measure the luminosity of the full moon over Chicago. Taking that data, he recreated the exact color and brightness of that full moon in his lunar sculpture.
Made from an aluminum and stainless steel buckyball, the lamp is outfitted with a series of LED lights and orange polycarbonate translucent panels. Since moonlight is actually reflected sunlight, Finch wanted to recreate that phenomenon through the use of solar energy. Two solar panels attached to the sculpture harvest the sun’s rays and then pump that power into the sculpture at night to power the lamp. The base of the sculpture is reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, used by the United States on space missions in 1969–72 and is heavily weighed down by lead plates to keep it from blowing away. Lunar will be on display on the Bluhm Family Terrace on the roof of the Art Institute of Chicago through April of 2012.
Finch explains about his installation: “Like just about everyone, I wanted to make a picture of the moon or, more specifically, of moonlight. I have always loved nocturnes and the impossible attempts to paint near-darkness in near-darkness. I figured that there were probably enough literal pictures of the moon, so I began thinking about the form of moonlight and how it is actually reflected sunlight. This led me to explore the use of solar power to generate the light of the moon. The structure of the lunar module and the buckyball followed in short order: I thought it would be fun to imagine that a lunar module—returning from the moon with moonlight on board—landed on top of the Art Institute.”
Via Co. Design
Images ©Spencer Finch