Lunar Vision

An interactive physical/digital experience to reconsider climate change through a speculative lens

MOTIVATION

Lunar Vision was developed as an interactive exhibit for a gallery show entitled "Nostalgic Futures". The exhibition called upon submissions that juxtaposed the nostalgic against the futuristic, and Lunar Vision achieved this by employing the lens of speculative design. I recommend you watch the video embedded in the gallery as you continue to read.

Lunar Vision imagines a future where humans have narrowly escaped a warming and broken earth and have set up an imperfect residence on the moon. As a remembrancer of how life was on Earth, as well as a subtle warning to future generations, a tower viewer has been erected to provide a way for lunar resident to look back at Earth. Projected on the wall are views of the planet come 2148; however, looking through the viewfinder of the tower viewer shows modern-day initiatives that attempt to arrest or prepare for climate disaster. In this way, the tower viewer evokes a sense of nostalgia for the Earth that used to be and reinforces the notion that unless we do more today, all our current efforts will amount to broken promises about a better future.

PROCESS

For this project, the experience was key. The team invested early in taking the time to think through and define the interactions and overall experience. The early efforts in conceptual design and project planning paid dividends later on when it came time to execute because the team was able to generate circuit diagrams, block-diagram level code, and manufacturing drawings that were all created from a common understanding of the underlying experience and then go implement those plans with minimal changes or rework. 

The circuitry and logic was implemented using two Particle Argon microprocessors and code was written in the Particle Web IDE. The visuals were created primarily using Google Earth Studio, and the open-source tool Processing was run on a computer to facilitate the image projection. The head of the tower viewer was made from MDF and the stand was comprised of PVC pipe, an antique bell, a decent amount of Bondo, and a careful application of spray paint. Internally, there were many peripherals/transducers that worked together to provide the whole experience, which were all connected to the particle through soldered perfboards. The internal imagery was created by hacking a ViewMaster toy, further reinforcing the nostalgia of the experience. 

OUTCOME

The experience exhibited at the Nostalgic Futures show at the Morgan Physical Lab on December 9, 2019. Lunar Vision had a constant lineup for the entire night and guests were extremely intrigued by the concept and execution. Again, early efforts in planning paid off in minimal rework and few bugs, which allowed the team to execute with a high level of craft and finish and an immersive experience, even on a tight timeline and minimal budget. This project reinforced for me many project management skills, speculative design skills, and abilities in circuit design and coding. Working with a well-balanced team was very rewarding.