All GAM 2011 Programs

Sunday, 10 April at 18.00 UTC

A live audio-visual radio transmission performance between Earth and the Moon


A project by Daniela de Paulis in collaboration with Jan van Muijlwijk and CAMRAS at Dwingeloo radio telescope

Live audio and video broadcast from Dwingeloo radio telescope on Ustream.  Search for "OPTICKS" to find the event broadcast.


OPTICKS, which borrows its name from the pivotal essay on refraction of light by Isaac Newton, is a live performance during which digital images of the seven primary colors of the spectrum are transmitted to the Moon by radio telescopes in Brazil, the UK or Switzerland, reflected off the Moon’s surface, received back on Earth by Dwingeloo radio telescope in The Netherlands after their half-million mile journey, and converted back into the original images.

OPTICKS was created in October, 2009 by Daniela de Paulis who suggested to radio amateurs based at Dwingeloo that they send images to the Moon and back in the form of radio signals. The enthusiastic radio amateurs’ team, guided by Jan van Muijlwijk, made history when color images sent to the Moon from Switzerland were received and reconstructed after reflecting off the Moon’s surface.

From the 1940s to the late 1960s when artificial satellites came into common use, Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) communications was widely used for military purposes, but it is now largely in the province of radio amateurs around the globe.

The OPTICKS performance, broadcast live on the Internet, begins with the sounds of radio amateur signals bouncing off the moon as captured by the Dwingeloo radio telescope as it tracks the Moon. The performance also features live and/or pre-recorded image sonifications, a process that conveys image color, brightness and location information through music.  Created by sonification researcher and musician/sound designer Marty Quinn and Design Rhythmics Sonification Research Lab, each primary color is represented by one of nine instruments and brightness is represented by 43 pitches in six octaves on various musical scales, all done with a huge number of synthesizer voices. The result is a sonic presentation that allows sight-impaired listeners to perceive the main characteristics and qualities of the images.  Those who can see are in for a surprise as well, with some image information that can be heard that’s beyond what they can see! These sonification techniques were developed with support from the NASA-funded interactive exhibit Walk on the Sun which allows people to walk, dance and move over imagery from NASA's STEREO space mission to study the Sun, and from the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes, and hear the images and movies as music.

At the end of the performance, four paintings by students will be Moonbounced.  The paintings by students at St Cronan’s Boys National School in Bray, Ireland and Stillorgan Gold Pack Brownies in Ireland, were created during astronomy workshops led by Deirdre Kelleghan, an Irish artist and amateur astronomer.

Two of Deirdre's paintings will also be bounced off the Moon, one inspired by first light images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory orbiting observatory and the other inspired by the magnificent images of Saturn taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

The OPTICKS team:
Daniela de Paulis, project author and visual artist (Italy and Netherlands) (Contact)
Jan van Muijlwijk, CAMRAS (Netherlands )
Marty Quinn, sound designer (USA) (Contact)
Ard Hartsuijker, CAMRAS public relations (Netherlands)
Howard Ling, radio amateur (UK)
Bruce Halász, radio amateur (Brazil)
Daniel Gautschi, radio amateur (Switzerland)