Track A New Moon As It Orbits The Earth Via Freight Courier

Katie Paterson's <i>Second Moon</i> sees a fragment of the Moon traveling the earth on a man-made commercial orbit.

"Second Moon", 2013, Lunar meteorite, box. Photo © MJC. Courtesy of the artist

This coming Sunday at 2pm artist Katie Paterson will launch a fragment of the Moon around the earth for her artwork Second Moon. But rather than travelling in space, this moon will orbit the earth via an air freight courier company, traveling anit-clockwise in a wooden cargo box for a whole year. The box will be monitored using tracking numbers and signed for roughly every 12 days. People can track its journey using a free app, design by Fraser Muggeridge studio and Supermono, which will show the fragment's location in relation to the actual Moon, your own location, and other planets in our solar system.

"I first thought of the piece whilst imagining all the objects, people and things flying around the planet at any one moment—all of these manmade ‘orbits’." Paterson says. "I was thinking, 'what can I send into a new orbit?' Naturally, a piece of the Moon."

"Second Moon", 2013. Images from Second Moon App. Photo © courtesy of the artist

The project is part of the British Science Festival 2013 and will begin its journey by being picked up at the Great North Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK before traveling to China, Australia, and the US. It's not the first time Paterson has used rocks from space to merge the mystery of the cosmos with the mundanity of our daily lives. Last year she recast a meteorite and left it sitting next to a tree outside the Royal Geographical Society's HQ in London.

Others projects have seen the artist beam Beethoven’s "Moonlight Sonata" to the Moon and back, map dead stars on laser etched aluminum, and create a light bulb that simulates moon light. So where did her interest in space come from? "I lived in Iceland a few years ago." she explains. "I’d say this was a starting point for my interest in  space—I felt a connection to the planet and a sense of otherworldliness that I hadn’t really experienced before. Parts of Iceland feel like walking on the surface of the moon. I began to reflect about the earth as a rotating, orbiting, alive planet. This interest has got deeper over the years."

"Second Moon", 2013, Lunar meteorite, box. Photo © MJC. Courtesy of the artist

As well as the interest in space the projects often ground the cosmic entity within the relative ordinariness of life on earth—so a meteorite sits seemingly randomly on the pavement or the moon's light lives in a bulb. In this case earth's only natural satellite becomes a parcel, its usual cosmic trajectory swapped for the logistics of a traveling package, forced to come into contact with the bureaucracies of international travel, like getting stopped at customs.

"The imagination is key in everything I do—for myself and for the viewers and users of the artwork." Paterson notes. "This tiny shard of the moon in itself is not remarkable—it is the size of a small pebble—but it has fallen all the way to earth, it once belonged to the Moon which affects our planet and all of us. This lunar fragment travels around our planet and in our minds becomes a new planet, caught within the networks of every-day transport logistics."

"Second Moon", 2013. Images from Second Moon App. Photo © courtesy of the artist

Through bringing these space objects into contact with the day-to-day of our lives, Paterson brings a little of their mystery with it, igniting out imaginations with the perplexity of the universe. "I’m drawn to space for its depth—its beyondness, its expansiveness and mystery, its ancientness." she notes. "I work with concepts of time—human time, geologic time, cosmic time, and how humans relate within the vast web of existence. To the furthest away darkness in the universe, and the billions of other planets that likely exist all around us. Second Moon will ‘orbit’ the earth in a very ordinary way, nevertheless, where our imagination takes us can be totally out of the ordinary."