Moon Project by Sallie Wolf
“The Moon Project” (or “My Watchful Eye”)
Setting out to discover what she could learn with only a notebook, a pen and her watchful eye, artist and naturalist Sallie Wolf began studying the moon in November, 1994. Since then she has filled countless notebooks with her almost daily observations, tracking the moon’s quarters and position in the sky. She became fascinated with how to visually represent this lunar motion and tried various arrays of watercolor diagrams and cardinal grids on vellum, but eventually found that graphing the moon’s movement on musical staff paper gave the best representation. And as soon as there were marks like notes running down the staff, there was “moon music” calling out to be played.
She had installations of her beautiful moon diagrams at the Adler Planetarium, Fermi Lab, and Ragdale and began dabbling with musical collaborations. Experimental composer Morgan Powel and his group, The Tone Road Ramblers, played through many years of daily observations. A friend wrote a poem, translated it into Latin, and then created what sounds like Gregorian chant, but actually sings out five years of the moon’s north-south shifts. And museum visitors played through a year of moon music on a tiny piano, banging on the top to create the silent days when the moon was invisible.
And now, inspired by this beautiful interaction of music and astronomy, literally the music of the spheres, pianist, composer and director of ICA, Patrick Godon, seeks to create a new work of musical art that both incorporates Sallie Wolf’s moon records but also imagines these observations in a fresh, fully orchestrated, original composition.
Motivated by the desire to encounter the real physical world through her own senses, Sallie pursued a question of almost Zen simplicity: “What could I see if I looked every day?” The musicians of ICA, striving to keep classical music alive in the public sphere, might add, “What could I hear if I listened every day?” Through The Moon Project, audiences around the city will experience, through their own eyes and ears, a beautiful answer to these questions and will hopefully be inspired to listen and look more, continuing to seek out the art and music that fills our world but so often goes unobserved.
~ Description by Amy Andrews Alznauer