F A Q
SOME QUESTIONS, SOME ANSWERS
I dreamed of going to the Moon and one day it was possible. I'm sharing that dream with some of the artists, authors, musicians, and filmmakers whose work I love.
The Lunar Codex is the collection of works in our lunar time capsules.
Q. What countries are represented in the Lunar Codex?
A. The work of creatives from 156 countries and territories are represented in the Lunar Codex. Curators from around the world have worked hard to make this a truly global creative archive. As such, the Lunar Codex includes works from
▪ North America: Canada, United States - including from every Canadian province & territory, every US state, the District of Columbia, and from several First Nations and Indigenous peoples territories
▪ Europe: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England (UK), Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar (UK), Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, Northern Ireland (UK), Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland (UK), Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Wales (UK)
▪ Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Egypt, Eswatini (Swaziland), Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte (France), Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
▪ Asia & the Middle East: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Hong Kong (China), India, Indonesia, Inner Mongolia (China), Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Macau (China), Malaysia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam
▪ Latin America & the Caribbean: Anguilla (UK), Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico (US), Saint Lucia, St. Martin (Netherlands), Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela
▪ Oceania: American Samoa (US), Australia, Fiji, Cook Islands (NZ), French Polynesia (France), New Zealand, Niue (NZ), Rotuma (Fiji), Samoa, Tasmania (Australia), Tokelau (NZ), Tonga, Tuvalu
▪ Antarctica: various outpost locations
Q. Why are you doing The Lunar Codex?
The Lunar Codex started as a project to spread hope during a dark time - the years of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time of economic upheaval, war, the realization that climate change was upon us.
Through all that, the Lunar Codex attempted to instill the Moon with some of the heart of humanity, our art, so that when we looked to the sky, the Moon might become a tangible symbol of hope, of what is possible when you believe.
The Codex is also a message-in-a-bottle to the future, so that travelers who find these time capsules might discover some of the richness of our world today. It speaks to the idea that, despite wars and pandemics and environmental upheaval, humankind found time to dream, time to create art.
Q. How did the The Lunar Codex come about?
A. On July 16, 2020, I purchased payload space from the first company to offer commercial space to individuals, Astrobotic Technology. It carried Moonstone, a piece etched on a silver metal disc.
I might have been content with that but just over five months later, I took up a spot as one of 125 authors for the Writers on the Moon (WOTM) project, assembling a library for the Peregrine mission. As creator of the Future Chronicles anthologies, I was able to share my space with over 400 authors, and a few artists.
I began to source more space on Peregrine - I found some via Future Grind - and other spacecraft, including the Nova-C, the Griffin lander, and finally NASA's Orion orbital spacecraft.
With more payload space, and better technology - NanoFiche instead of a silver disk, terabytes of digital memory instead of megabytes, and nickel-shielding - I brought my manifests to over 1500, then 5,000, and now over 30,000 creative artists (and one A.I.) - The Lunar Codex.
Q. Are there really that many creative artists represented in the Lunar Codex?
A. Probably more; I just stopped trying to count after ~30,000. The archives include not only individual works, but art magazines, exhibit catalogs, poetry anthologies, short story collections. One collection can represent hundreds of authors; several years' worth of art magazine issues would include the works of thousands of artists.
Q. Is there really work from an A.I. onboard?
A. We have a poetry collection created collaboratively between myself and OSUN, an A.I. based on an OpenAI GPT-2 model. It was included in our Peregrine mission payload in October 2020, well before the explosion in large language model based tools such as GPT-3 and GPT-4 in 2023.
Despite the existence of new tools, we value having been able to control the training database of OSUN, and to our knowledge no other substantive A.I. work is included in the Lunar Codex.
Q. Why is there a lot of your own writing, music, film, and art in The Lunar Codex?
A. That's how this all started, with sending my own creative work to the Moon. It just grew from there.
Q. Do artists pay to be included in the Lunar Codex?
A. No, not at all. Artists, authors, musicians, filmmakers, and the copyright owners of the catalogues, collections and anthologies included are only asked permission for inclusion. I bear the cost of everything. That includes background research, curation and site maintenance, digital or analog archival materials, conversion of works into archival format, documentation, back-up, and payload space on the lunar landers including launch costs.
This is a key difference from other current lunar projects, scientific or cultural. It is liberating: since the Lunar Codex does not receive payment, we're free to select works that fit our vision of the project.
Q. Who owns the Lunar Codex?
A. The Lunar Codex is a project of Incandence - a privately-owned company covering interests in arts, technology, and business. Incandence owns the physical time capsules, specific archival technology, related trademarks, and this website.
Individual works in the Codex have been archived with permission from their respective creators, publishers, or owners, whether individually or as represented in a collection - such as an anthology, or exhibit or collector's catalogue. Copyright of individual works in the Codex remain with their respective creators, publishers, or owners.
Q. Does the Lunar Codex select NFTs for its archive?
No. We include digitally-created or augmented art, but non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are more akin to traceability certificates for artwork, rather than art. Our perspective is based on a decade of experience in distributed ledgers, including co-founding and serving on the boards of directors of companies using blockchain for provenance applications.
Q. Does the Lunar Codex sell NFTs?
No. Artists own their work, and the Lunar Codex does not and will not sell NFTs based on works it has no rights to.
Some of our partners, like Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, have reported unauthorized accounts using their name on sites like OpenSea, selling NFTs of art that have appeared in BBM's pages. This is theft. Individual artists own their work and only they may create NFTs - or prints or posters - based on their original works.
Q. What happens when you're gone?
A. The analog and digital time capsules of the Lunar Codex will remain on the Moon in perpetuity.
The Lunar Codex website, which documents the contents of the time capsules here on Earth, is itself intended to be archived on nickel or gold-based nanofiche, M-Disc, or similar archival media.
This and any other related artifacts, such as archival intermediates, will be provided to an institution dedicated to its preservation.
We are in preliminary discussions with some institutions, but have not yet made any decisions. I'd love for the institution to be in Canada, because that's where I am, but it's not a prerequisite. If you represent such an institution, please drop me a line.
Q. Is The Lunar Codex open for submission?
A. Not directly, no. The Codex reflects personally-owned exhibit catalogs, subscriptions, collections, publications, preprints, as well as selections from trusted curators, editors, collectors, and publishers that I know personally. I'd include more, but behind the scenes this reflects the efforts of one person - I don't have the time or resources.
But because we'd wanted to include a diverse and global group of creative artists, we partnered with Brick Street Poetry in The Polaris Trilogy call for poetry, with Era Contemporary for their Legends of the Moon open call for art, and with the Art Renewal Center (ARC) for their 16th ARC Salon call for art submissions. Selected poetry and art will be included in our Polaris time capsule.
Q. I have art or books being sent to the Moon separately. Can it be listed in The Lunar Codex?
A. Possibly. There are an increasing number of opportunities to place lunar payload. If one of yours is arts, music, film, or literature-related, drop me a line on the C&C page. I make no promises, since everything in the Codex is curated by gallerists, curators, collectors, publishers, and editors.
Q. Why have I read about different galleries and collections in The Lunar Codex?
A. The Lunar Codex covers everything. But the Codex evolved organically, so you will see references which correspond to various stages in its evolution:
▪ "Three Faces of the Moon" is work carried on a NASA flash drive via the Orion spacecraft on the Artemis 1 mssion. Orion will not land on the Moon, but orbit it. "Three Faces of the Moon" will be archived on the Moon in the Polaris time capsule.
▪ "Moonstone" is work in a MoonBox purchased for Peregrine Mission 1 (PM1).
▪ "Manifest 9" includes works I curated as part of WOTM - including more of my own work - in a second MoonBox onboard PM1, the secondary payload space for which I paid for.
▪ "The Peregrine Collection" consists of works in three MoonBoxes: Moonstone, Manifest 9, and the works of ~800 artists and ~100 authors on a third MoonBox, containing secondary payload space I purchased via FutureGrind. Peregrine encompasses all of the works I have put onboard PM1.
▪ "The Nova Collection" refers to a separate group of primarily artworks and poetry in a nickel-based time capsule with purchased secondary payload space via Galactic Legacy Labs, associated with Intuitive Machines' Nova-C Mission 1 (IM1). GLL provided access to more payload space when they understood the Lunar Codex's mission.
▪ "The Polaris Collection" is a third group of creative works in my own MoonBox time capsule associated with Astrobotic's Griffin mission 1, which will also carry NASA's VIPER lunar rover (GM1). Polaris carries new art, books, music, film, and a back-up of the Peregrine and Nova time capsules, as well as my work previously flown on Orion.
Q. When are the launches?
A. The Artemis 1 mission, carrying the Orion spacecraft, successfully launched on November 16, 2922, with a return to Earth on December 11, 2022. This is the earliest launch for one of my own works, although the mission is to orbit the Moon and return to Earth - so is not strictly part of the archives.
The Peregrine launch has been delayed because of issues with the rocket platform, and is now scheduled for no earlier than May 4, 2023.
The Nova launch is similarly scheduled for the around June or July 2023.
The Griffin launch is scheduled for November 2024. Schedule changes in the space industry are not uncommon - the space industry is hard.
Q. How long does it take to get to the Moon?
A. As little as 3 days, traveling roughly 240,000 miles, or 386,400 kilometers, which is the distance from the Earth to the Moon. However, a low-cost trajectory from Earth to the Moon - making minimal use of thrusters and relying mainly on gravity and momentum - takes about 3 months. Which route is taken depends on the mission.
Q. Will we be able to watch the launches and landings?
A. Yes, much like the Perseverance rover landing on Mars, the missions will be streamed. As a payload provider, we will also have first access to photographs and videos of each mission.
Q. Aren't you contributing to space junk?
A. This isn't about old satellites that don't work anymore. This is a time capsule project, meant for future generations to discover a bit about our time on Earth. It has historical and cultural value, like an unearthed time capsule from a pre-1945 world.
Q. Won't the time capsules float away into space?
A. The Moon does have gravity, just 1/6th that of Earth. A 120-lb kettle-ball on Earth would still feel like 20-lbs on the Moon.
Q. How will aliens be able to read the files?
A. The time capsule is meant to be found by future human travelers to the Moon. Whoever finds them - alien or human - will likely be smart enough to figure them out, just as we can still decipher Babylonian even when the writing has been eroded down to the tablet surface: "Restoration of Fragmentary Babylonian Texts Using Recurrent Neural Networks."
Q. I understand how you can archive art and books using laser-etching on nickel, but how can music and film be archived that way?
A. Film is still prohibitively expensive to etch frame-by-frame on nickel, so digital archiving usually more appropriate; alternatively, we laser-etch scripts or screenplays. For music, again we primarily use digital archiving; for some cases, we use laser-etched sheet music or hex-encoded MIDI files on NanoFiche.
A Lunar Codex innovation for music is to archive the waveform and frequency spectrogram by etching on NanoFiche; the original music may be reconstructed via sound wave analysis algorithms as used in paleokymophony or paleospectrophony: "How to Play Back the Picture of a Sound Wave."
Q. Why don't you list or show every artwork, story or poem represented in the Lunar Codex, only the creator names or book/magazine covers?
A. It's only one human at the computer here (and one other human providing life support while I do this). With thousands of creatives, and several pieces by each, this is a huge task! Eventually we will link back to the original terrestrial publication so you can see what individual works are included. For now, it suffices to list the creators and/or the original source such as a catalog, magazine, or anthology. I do have a couple of Galleries that showcases selected pieces.
Q. Are you associated with NASA? SpaceX? The United Launch Alliance (ULA)? Blue Origin?
A. The lunar landers themselves are owned by two NASA prime contractors - Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines (IM) - via NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Scientific American and Nature have good articles about CLPS. SpaceX and the ULA (plus Blue Origin) provide launch services as subcontractors to Astrobotic and IM. NASA utilizes lander payload space for scientific instruments or rovers headed for the Moon; this is the primary mission of the launches.
Some surplus non-NASA payload space, commercialized by third parties, has been purchased for use by the Lunar Codex. You can think of ULA and SpaceX are our Lyft or Uber. We are ridesharing with NASA and NASA's CLPS partners, who are co-passengers.
Q. What happens if the launch is cancelled?
A. NASA has provided about $100M or more in contracts to each CLPS partner for each mission. Each mission is critical for the Artemis program and the goal of establishing a base on the Moon. If at all humanly possible, a launch will not be cancelled, only delayed. It may be a long delay - for example, Astrobotic's Peregrine launch was originally scheduled for mid-2020, then late 2021, late 2022, and now early 2023.
Q. What happens if your partners don't get the time capsule on the lander in time for the launch?
A. Once I send my files to my partners, and they confirm receiving them, I have no control over what happens next - I put my trust in them. Deadlines are tight in the space industry, and if they miss onboarding, there's nothing I can do about it. But I will try to put those missed files on my next mission, if there is one, with new partners.
Q. What happens if the lander crashes on the Moon or doesn't reach the Moon, or if the rocket explodes?
A. Alas, success in the space industry is not easy. If anything like this happens, I may be out my entire investment in this project. But all may not be lost - the works on the time capsule become stardust.
Q. Does the Codex represent the first art on the Moon?
A. "The Moon Museum" (Apollo 12 - 1969) was a small ceramic wafer etched by Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, Claes Oldenburg, John Chamberlain, Forrest Myers and Andy Warhol, smuggled to the Moon on a lander leg.
"Fallen Astronaut" (Apollo 15 - 1971) was a 3.5" aluminum statue of by Paul Van Hoeydonck, made to honor those who had died in space exploration.
With books, SpaceIL's Beresheet lander (2019) crashed on the Moon with Arch Mission Foundation's "Lunar Library" on board, assumed intact. It included texts on human history, and Project Gutenberg books (public domain, published prior to 1923).
The Lunar Codex's contribution is its conscious focus on contemporary, rather than historic, art and books. It is the first project to put the works of women artists on the Moon. It represents the first figurative realist art on the lunar surface, and is the first project to place music and film on the Moon. Finally, it is the most expansive and diverse collections of contemporary arts and culture launched to the Moon or to space.
Q. Is there a personal significance to "The Peregrine Collection" name? "The Nova Collection"? "The Polaris Collection"?
A. "Peregrine" was my name on early email addresses and bulletin boards.
Other than being the name of Intuitive Machine's first lander, "Nova" was the name of one of my favorite science documentary series - helping lead me on my road to a Ph.D. in physics.
"Polaris," the name of Astrobotic's prototype rover, suggests the lunar south pole landing of our time capsule.
Q. I'm a creative artist listed in the Lunar Codex - how can I identify as being part of this project?
A. Say so, in a way that makes it verifiable: "My etching 'La Figlia Che Piange' is listed in Gallery B of the Lunar Codex." Or: "I'm in the anthology 'Chiaroscuro' listed in the Poetry section of the Lunar Codex." Link to the page when you can.
Creatives listed in the Lunar Codex may use the Archived on the Moon Seal, below, on websites, book covers, appropriate art certificates of authenticity, as part of a digital resume, with a link to this website but not on any item for sale based primarily on the seal, such as for example mugs, T-shirts, avatars, stickers, and so on) or any type of other marketing material. It may appear when affixed to a book cover, or as a seal attached to an author photograph.
Click the image, then 'Go to link' for a hi-res set.
You're not required to use the seal; you can simply refer in words to the Lunar Codex.
If you or your work is not verifiably in the Lunar Codex, you are not authorized to use the seal.
Q. Will you have Lunar Codex logo T-shirts? Mugs?
A. It's not very likely. Curation, onboarding, and documentation takes most of my time. If you're looking for NASA, Artemis, Astrobotic or Intuitive Machines patches or merchandise, they're available from their websites. I have some myself!
Q. Any other plans or projects?
A. The Lunar Codex started with one mission, and now has payload confirmed for four lunar missions. It's already amazing that this was possible.
What next? Well, as an author, I'm probably going to write a book when everything's finally been launched. Maybe a TED talk?
Also, the gold-based microfiche technology I often use as a demo for the Lunar Codex - see the "Story" section - that technology's been tested at the HI-SEAS facility used by NASA for testing in simulated Mars environments. So if the opportunity arises for a mission to Mars? We're ready. Humanity is all about possibility.