Katie Paterson Interview: A Trampoline for the Imagination



“For me, the Moon is a little bit like a trampoline for the imagination. You can jump off it and then you can leap off into the rest of the universe.” To Scottish artist Katie Paterson – widely regarded as one of the leading artists of her generation – the “blank canvas” of the Moon has always been a great inspiration, entering a lot of her work across different areas. In this video, she presents two of these intriguing projects, which pay tribute to the Moon.

“Moonlight is like nothing else. It’s really ineffable. It’s intangible. We’re so used to it in one way, but it’s so magical in another.” With the aid of lighting engineer Dieter Lang, who took measurements under a full moon and experimented in the laboratory, Paterson created a lightbulb which accurately simulates “standardized” moonlight, which became the artwork ‘Light bulb to Simulate Moonlight’ (2008). Another take on the moon was ‘Earth-Moon-Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon)’, 2007) for which she “used the Moon to beam a piece of music back to Earth,” like a mirror. Paterson transmitted Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, translated into Morse code, from the Earth to the Moon, to see how it would be altered when was reflected off the surface of the Moon and then received back on Earth: “The Moon will have altered the piece of music and will make it into a new score, and the pieces that get lost in the Moon or get refracted off into space will be missing when you listen back to it, and those absences will become quite present because that’s the Moon talking silently.” The “Moon-altered” piece with its missing chords, is then played on a self-playing grand piano, which gives you the sense that the Moon is in fact in the room with you.

Katie Paterson (b. 1981) is a Scottish artist, who often collaborates with scientists and researchers for her projects, which considers our place on Earth in the context of geological time and change. Among many projects, Paterson has broadcast the sounds of a melting glacier live (Vatnajökull, 2007-8), mapped all the dead stars (All the Dead Stars, 2009), created a light bulb to simulate the experience of moonlight (Light bulb to Simulate Moonlight, 2008) and transformed a forest near Oslo into an anthology of books in the course of a hundred years (Future Library, 2014-2114). Paterson has exhibited internationally and her works have been included in major exhibitions including Tate Britain in London, Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, MCA Sydney in Sydney, Guggenheim Museum in New York and The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. In 2014, she was the winner of the Visual Arts category of the 2014 South Bank Awards. Paterson is also an Honorary Fellow of Edinburgh University. For more see: http://katiepaterson.org/

Katie Paterson was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in September 2018 in connection with the exhibition ‘The Moon’.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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