Hebridean Dark Skies Festival seeks photos to send to the Moon and back

  • Published on: 6th January 2020
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The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival is inviting people to submit photographs for the Isle of Lewis’s first ‘Visual Moonbounce’ on Saturday 8 February.

OPTICKS, a live event by media artist Daniela de Paulis, is one of the headline events at Lewis’s second annual arts and astronomy festival, which will run from Friday 7 February to Saturday 22 February at An Lanntair as well as across Lewis.

Described as a “live Networked Performance between the Earth and the Moon”, OPTICKS will see images transmitted to the Moon and back as radio signals in real time. The event will be hosted in collaboration with radio antennas from around the world, as part of A Day of Creativity and Curiosity, a whole day of performances, workshops and film screenings bringing together artists and astronomers from across the UK and beyond.

Daniela de Paulis is a media artist, licensed radio operator and trained radio telescope operator. She developed her Visual Moonbounce technology while working as an artist in residence at the Dwingeloo radio telescope in Holland.

Hebridean Dark Skies Festival programmer Andrew Eaton-Lewis said: “We’re very excited to be working with Daniela, and with Gillian McFarland and Ione Parkin from Creativity and Curiosity, on this unique event. We’re hoping this callout will really spark people’s imaginations. If you could send one photo to the Moon and back, what would it be? Your family? A favourite family pet? The mountains or the sea near where you live? We look forward to hearing from you.”

If you would like to take part in OPTICKS, please submit your image together with a short message explaining your choice to andrew@lanntair.com, by the end of January. If selected, your image will be reflected off the Moon’s surface as part of the OPTICKS live performance.

A Day of Creativity and Curiosity is a whole day of conversations, workshops and performances programmed by An Lanntair in partnership with Ione Parkin and Gillian McFarland, lead artists on Creativity and Curiosity, an ongoing project bringing together artists and astronomers. Artwork from the Creativity and Curiosity project will also be exhibited at An Lanntair’s main gallery throughout the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival.

Other Dark Skies Festival highlights will include:

  • The Only Light Was Stars by Karine Polwart, an exclusive early glimpse at the the singer-songwriter’s supernova-themed follow up to her hit show Wind Resistance.
  • Universe (of Music) with Chris Lintott and Steve Pretty, in which a leading astronomer and a jazz musician team up for an evening of ‘conversation, contemplation, science and music’ – also part of A Day of Creativity and Curiosity.
  • g-Astronomy, an interactive dining experience in which astrophysicist Roberto Trotta will create menus with chefts at An Lanntair and Uig Sands.
  • Cosmos Planetarium – returning for a second year, the popular portable planetarium will present a new programme at An Lanntair and across Lewis.
  • Dark Skies film programme bringing together four science fiction films – Solaris, Contact, Interstellar and Ad Astra – that explore human connections across the cosmos.
  • Stargazing events across the island presented by Highland Astronomy Tours and Steven Gray from Cosmos Planetarium.
  • To close the festival, a revival of Neosa’s sellout production of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds featuring some of Lewis’s most talented musicians.

The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival was launched in February this year, with audiences travelled from across the UK to see festival guests including Chris Lintott, singer-songwriter Emma Pollock, BAFTA award-winning actress Shauna Macdonald, Scotland’s Astronomer Royal John Brown, and Scotland’s top children’s theatre-maker Andy Cannon.

The 2020 festival will be dedicated to the memory of John Brown, who sadly died at the end of November, just days after the festival programme was printed. A guest of honour at the first Hebridean Dark Skies Festival’s opening weekend, Professor Brown was also a significant source of support and advice as the festival programme came together, and was to have made a second appearance at the second festival in February.

The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival is programmed by An Lanntair (part-financed by Outer Hebrides LEADER funding), in partnership with Stornoway Astronomical Society, Calanais Visitor Centre, Gallan Head Community Trust, and Lews Castle College, and with support from CalMac, Outer Hebrides Tourism and Visit Scotland.

The second festival is part of a new winter tourism campaign, Winter in the Wild, led by An Lanntair in partnership with Outer Hebrides Tourism, Visit Scotland, Hebridean Hopscotch, Loganair, CalMac, Glasgow Airport, and other local organisations. #winterinthewild.

For more information, please contact Andrew Eaton-Lewis on andrew@lanntair.com or 01851 709488