Another Moon – Kimchi and Chips

Created by Kimchi and Chips, ‘Another Moon‘ is a large-scale outdoor apparition that creates a technically sublime second moon in the sky. 40 towers collect the sun’s energy during the day and project that light back into the sky at night, creating a second moon overhead where their beams tightly superimpose to create the three-dimensional form. The public artwork can be viewed up to 1km away, creating a focus to bring people back together in a post-corona era. It was developed over a 6 year period by the artist duo, and is the pinnacle of their ‘Drawing in the Air’ series of works.

The project was first presented in the industrial ruins of the Zeche Zollverein (historically the most productive coal mine in Europe). Each night the lasers turn off one by one as the sunshine on that particular day is depleted from their batteries. This mechanism replays the ephemeral energy of the day, unwinding our on-demand instinct for energy which became dominant during the era of fossil fuels.

The artists have frequently used the motif of the moon as a reflection of our physical reality. “It is the only land that we can naturally see outside of our own habitat, and demonstrates the physicality of our planet Earth, as a spherical body traveling alone through space, awakening and disappearing as the sun’s shadow is passed around it. By bringing an immaterial moon into physical space, the work monumentalises the superposition of virtual and physical realities.” – Kimchi and Chips

The team of Art Visit developed their own self-driving camera system with studio allesblinkt to capture 360 timelapse walk-throughs of exhibitions. They brought this system to Another Moon to capture an immersive VR walkthrough of Another Moon which can be viewed using VR glasses or in a browser, where the veiwer can navigate using their mouse.

Back in 2014, Kimchi and Chips first premiered Light Barrier, an artwork that knitted together millions of beams of light in the air to create animated 3D graphic objects that float in space. The work introduced a new format for images, which remapped the relationship between imaginary and real objects. This type of ‘volumetric light field projection’ was similar to the holograms of science fiction, and has been explored to stunning and varied effect by many other artists including: Shohei Fujimoto’s Intangible Forms (2020), Rhizomatiks Phosphere (2017) and WOW Studio’s Light of Birth (2016). In addition, Kimchi and Chips’ own Light Barrier Series (2015, 2015), including Light Barrier (Second Edition), Light Barrier (Third Edition) and HALO.

Soon after showing the first Light Barrier. Kimchi and Chips started working on a way to scale up this technique to create a floating 3D object in the sky above a city. The plan was to use 100 laser projectors positioned on rooftops that are then tightly calibrated together to create a unified single image that can be viewed from kilometers away in any direction. It becomes an immaterial monument that positions an immaterial object within the built environment.

Tokyo Similation of Another Moon by Kimchi and Chips (derivative of a photograph by Moyan Brenn used under CC BY 2.0 with simulated light layers superimposed)

In 2016, the artists began working with the Tokyo Olympic Committee to bring Another Moon to the city with a budget of $2m. This seemed to be the perfect partnership to bring both the funds and political ability to realise a project of this scale. At Resonate the same year, Kimchi and Chips started to include a teaser for the work in their talk, as a way of publicly hoping Another Moon into existence, but after a year of discussions and meetings with the TOC, the sponsorship for the project didn’t materialise, and the duo realigned their plan away from the Olympics, and instead focused on presenting the work at arts festivals. This required a long term period of engineering to make the project more cost-efficient and practical to tour.

2017 then brought a new partnership with LaserAnimation SOLLINGER GmbH in Berlin, who are the hardware company behind many well known artworks with accurate lasers including those of Robert Henke, Christopher Bauder, Olafur Eliasson and Refik Anadol. Sollinger was excited about creating objects mid-air with lasers, and wanted to find a way to help bring it to life, so the next step was to do some tests with actual laser projectors. 

One major challenge to get the project commissioned, was that people didn’t believe that it could really work. The artists responded with what they call “PhotoPreViz”, which brings together ideas from both Nicolas Feltron’s book PHOTOVIZ (the use of stacked photography to visualise information), and the concept of‘PreViz’ where a rendered visualisation is used to propose a project to potential stakeholders. The idea was to create a pre-visualisation of the Another Moon project using stacked photography and a single laser projector.

The team worked through the night in a field for horses south of Berlin with the Sollinger team, wheeling around a single laser to many different locations. For each location, they would calibrate the laser using computer vision, and then a DSLR would take a photo frame of that laser shining into the sky. These photos were then later stacked together in Photoshop to create a combined image where all of the laser positions were active at the same time, revealing the complete image of the moon. since the process took all of the night, the end of the sunset can be seen on the left side of the image whilst the sunrise can be seen on the right.

Another Moon PhotoPreViz by Kimchi and Chips

In 2021, the project was commissioned by RAG Stiftung and the Arts Council of Korea for the inaugeral NEW NOW Festival for Digital Arts in Essen Germany. The festival takes place in the industrial ruins of the Zeche Zollverein, once the most productive coal mine in Europe and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site renovated by Rem Koolhaus. The location is famous for being ‘the most beautiful coal mine in the world’ thanks to is it’s New Objectivity style of architecture.

Another Moon’s solar power stands in contrast to the rhythm of coal power that marked the heady fossil fuel days of the Zollverein. The artists aim to highlight a new world of energy that we need to get used to, where energy is no longer available on demand as we have become used to from fossil fuels. The duration of the exhibition each night depends on the amount of energy the laser towers were able to gather during the day preceding it, taking the control out of the hands of the artists and audience. 40 towers collect the suns light during the day and project it back into the sky at night. The resulting projected moon moon is 50m high and 10m diameter.

Kimchi and Chips designed and fabricated waterproof laser projectors using custom components from LaserAnimation Sollinger. The enclosure is made from bead blasted 304 Stainless Steel which deflects the heat of the sun and protects from corrosion. Each module houses a Raspberry Pi for communication and control, a Teensy 4.0 microcontroller, a voltage regulator, a wireless communication module, TEC temperature control, a 4W laser and galvo scanning mirrors.

A solar charge controller routes power from the solar panels to a LiFePo4 battery and the laser module. Pelican-style cases are used to transport the components during shipping, and these cases are then used as waterproof enclosures for the batteries during the exhibition. The lasers communicate with a central control computer via a WiFi network, meaning that both power and data are wireless. The hardware is mounted onto a a set of 4m truss towers, each erected along an 80m diameter ring. The artists designed galvanised steel brackets which can be adjusted for exhibitions at different latitudes and seasons.

Solar mounting brackets can be adjusted depending on the latitude and season of the exhibition

The firmware for the laser projector runs on a Teensy 4.0 and is developed in C++ by Sollinger and Kimchi and Chips. The Raspberry Pi runs software developed in openFrameworks and Python in order to communicate the control signals and solar charge status. The central control system runs in Rulr (Kimchi and Chips’ open source calibration framework built on top of openFrameworks). ThingsBoard and RunDeck are used for IoT automation and data logging tasks. The calibration system employs a Canon DSLR operated via the site WiFi network. The calibration system (still in active development) employs a type of bundle adjustment that simultaneously solves the laser and camera calibrations. 

Another Moon will be exhibited soon again at the Soma Festival in Athens 22nd May – 10th July. The exhibition, which is commissioned by Onassis Foundation / Stegi, will be taking place at Pedion tou Areos, the largest public park in central Athens (Greece), and will include a public engagement programme with onsite and online events. The exhibition, which will comprise large-scale new media and digital art installations, will be exploring themes of hybridity and transcendence, blurring of physical and virtual realities (constructed realities), material and immaterial, body and machine. The journey will unfold via a series of platforms throughout the park.

If you’re in Seoul this month, Kimchi and Chips are hosting a ‘Demo Exhibition’ as a catalyst to exhibit Another Moon in Seoul after Athens. The exhibition is open daily at the GIZI Foundation (the private art foundation of ledgendary Korean painter Park Seo-Bo). Guided tours with the artists are available and can be booked through Eventbrite.

Project Page | Kimchi and Chips