Pauline Oliveros «Echoes From the Moon» 1987-99.


The poet Ione will create a text to speak to the moon and help the audience direct their voices to the moon to hear the echoes come back.
«I like how you use the moon as another element in the elaborate circuitry of your performance environment and yet there is the poetic image you create of one sitting at the edge of the earth, sending out sound through the emptiness of space to be reflected back off the moon, our closest planetary companion.» ~ Pauline Oliveros.

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The performance in the Austrian Hofe-Fest, Echoes From the Moon will include a departure from her original work. Sound artist Andres Bosshard will create a 'moon space' in which Pauline Oliveros will play her accordion while interacting with the moon. The Ham Radio Operators will open the lines to the moon. Some of Oliveros' sound will travel to the moon and return. Bosshard will use the open lines to create his 'moon space' defined by the speaker installation. The audience will be inside the 'moon space' and hear the music and text created in this large spatial trio and chorus with Oliveros, Ione, Bosshard and the audience.

«Echoes From the Moon was created in 1987 with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. My idea came from watching on television the first moon landing in 1969 by the US astronauts.


I thought that it would be interesting and poetic for people to experience an installation where they could send the sound of their voices to the moon and hear the echo come back to earth. They would be vocal astronauts. My first experience of Echoes From the Moon was in New Lebanon, Maine with Ham Radio Operator Dave Olean. He was one of the first HROs to participate in the Moon Bounce project in the 1970s. He sent Morse Code to the moon and got it back. This project allowed operators to increase the range of their broadcast. I traveled to Maine to work with Dave. He had an array of twenty four Yagi antennae which could be aimed at the moon. The moon is in constant motion and has to be tracked by the moving antenna. The antenna has to be large enough to receive the returning signal from the moon. Conditions are constantly changing - sometimes the signal is lost as the moon moves out of range and has to be found again. Sometimes the signal going to the moon gets lost in galactic noise. I sent my first "hello" to the moon from Dave's studio in 1987. I stepped on a foot switch to change the antenna from sending to receiving mode and in 2 and 1/2 seconds heard the return "hello" from the moon.

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The sound shifted slightly downward in pitch - a Doppler effect caused by the motion of the moon moving relative to the earth - like the whistle of a train as it rushes past. Then I played a duo with the moon using a tin whistle, accordion and conch shell. I am indebted to Scott Gresham-Lancaster who located Dave Olean for me in 1986 and helped to determine the technology necessary to perform Echoes From the Moon . Ten years later Scott located all the Ham Radio Operators for the performance in Hayward, California which took place during the lunar eclipse September 23, 1996. Following is the description of that performance: The lunar eclipse from the Hayward Amphitheater was gorgeous. The night was clear and she rose above the trees an orange mistiness. As she climbed the sky the bright sliver emerged slowly from the black shadow - crystal clear. The moon was performing well for all to see. Now we were ready to sound the moon.

The set up for Echoes From the Moon involved Mark Gummer - a Ham Radio Operator in Syracuse New York. Mark was standing by with a 48 foot dish in his back yard. I sent sounds from my microphone via telephone line in Hayward California to Mark and he keyed them to the moon with his Ham Radio rig and dish and then he returned the echo from the moon. The return came in 2 & 1/2 seconds. Scott Gresham-Lancaster was the engineer and organized all. When the echo of each sound I made returned to the audience in the Hayward University Amphitheater they cheered. Later in the evening Scott set up the installation so that people could queue up to talk to the moon using a telephone. There was a long line of people of all ages from the audience who participated. People seemed to get a big kick out of hearing their voices return - processed by the moon. There is a slight Doppler shift on the echo because of the motion of both earth and moon. This performance marked the premiere of the installation - Echoes From the Moon as I originally intended. The set up for the installation involved Don Roberts - Ham Radio Operator near Seattle and Mike Cousins at Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto California. The dish at SRI is 150 feet in diameter and was used to receive the echoes after Don keyed them to the moon. With these set ups it was only possible to send short phrases of 3-4 seconds. The goal for the next installations would be to have continuous feeds for sending and receiving so that it would be possible to play with the moon as a delay line.» ~ Pauline Oliveros

For more information about the September 4, 1999 performance in St.Polten, Austria please see the press release and the Mond Echo Flashsite.