By Richard Friswell
The recent indignity suffered by the moon at the hands of scientists attests to how important finding water on a distant planet or moon is to our chances of successfully traveling there and thriving once we arrive. Astronauts can recycle their waste water on the way but lugging a supply of H2O across the vast expanse of space to meet our needs for months or years is both costly and cumbersome (imagine the fuel costs and handling issues if you carried a 400-gallon drum of water in the trunk of your car!). An elementary problem like sustained hydration becomes a major concern for NASA scientists.
For those of us who are earth-bound and plan to continue to be so, what can the quest for water on the moon teach us about ourselves? As artists, we hope to communicate vital information through our work across the seemingly boundless void between ourselves and the ‘dark side of the moon’, called, public perception. And what constitutes sustenance for artists while they work? Sure, food, clothing and shelter—the wellspring of life as we know it on this planet. But, what else drives us to create as a means to those practical ends?
Our own personal version of a moon probe happens when we send our latest work on a trajectory out into the world. And, for the artist, analysis of the ‘six-mile high spray’ at point-of-impact takes the form of the response of critics, gallery owners, collectors and editors who stand by, binoculars and notes pads at the ready. Everyone watches and waits to see if there are life-giving elements in the work and whether a spur of interest can move the viewer to explore, in depth, the various complexities of the piece and their meaning. For a few lucky artists, pioneering colonies of believers may soon set up encampments over these small, life-emitting oases of earnest intentions, known as the 'artist's vision!'
For artists of any stripe, we harbor a shared belief in the universe of ideas. All things are possible in the world of the imagination. There is no out-there, out there. It is all in here. The studio version of a moon probe is wet paint poised on a brush before a blank canvas; a pencil hovering above a clean sheet of paper; or restless hands poised on the silent keyboard of a grand piano. Through our creative effort, we hope to find water, insuring that our journey can be sustained. We are hoping against hope to find signs of life.
My tiny capsule
flung into darkness,
charting the empty void.
Skirting the edge
to pass behind its sheltering face.
Curled like a fist,
and pounding heart
give voice to the fragile life within.
Only the pulse of suns