In Event of Moon Disaster17 February -4 August 2024
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The programme kicks off with an Emmy Award-winning interactive experience that is a deep dive into misinformation and conspiracy. Using AI to tell an alternative history, the show brings to light how an event as influential as the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing could be manipulated, and how doubt can be cast on even the most well-known of facts.
Despite the United States´s space race rival at the time not even raising any doubts, a YouGov poll from 2019 found 16% of the British public believe the moon landing most likely never happened.
It remains one of the most famous conspiracy theories in the world, and one aspect that has been caught up in the theory is a prepared speech by President Nixon that was to be given in case the mission ended in catastrophic failure. The speech, titled ‘In event of moon disaster’, was of course never delivered, but now visitors to the Sainsbury Centre will be able to experience it like never before.
American new media artist Halsey Burgund (b.1973) and British digital artist Francesca Panetta (b.1977) have reconstructed the speech with the use of state-of-the-art deepfake technology. Played back on a vintage television like the ones that carried the moon-landing broadcast to 1960s living rooms around the world, the installation will highlight the media that are used to either build or destroy trust.
Both artists draw on their expertise in technology and creative fields, with Burgund being Creative Technologist-in-Residence at the MIT Open Documentary Lab and Panetta as Director of the Storytelling Institute at the University of the Arts, London.
The artists said: “By using the most advanced techniques available, creating a video using both synthetic visuals and synthetic audio (a “complete deepfake”), we aim to show where this technology is heading – and what some of the key consequences might be.”
In Event of Moon Disaster is an MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality production. The work won an Emmy Award for Interactive Media Documentary in 2021.
This exhibition is part of our 2024 What Is Truth? Season
Image: In Event of Moon Disaster at the Sainsbury Centre. Copyright: Halsey Burgund and Francesca Panetta. Photo: Kate Wolstenholme