The man who fell in love with the moon
Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars.
Let me see what spring is like
On a, Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand.
Written in 1954 by Bart Howard, Fly me to the Moon was made famous in 1964 by Frank Sinatra y associated directly with the missions that NASA was developing with the Apollo program to the moon.
Taking all the declassified material from the different Apollo mission programs as reference, the work that Luis Úrculo presents in Perceived Landscapes, as in the Sinatra song, not only discusses the moon as a place for a utopia, a dream of love, but also the moonscape itself, or what we know from the photographic and video record which have been released by NASA, which he then approaches as a workshop, as the model on which to activate some of the fundamental notions of the work of Úrculo; the broad idea of archive, the double erosion of the image and the relationships between fiction and performance in the construction of history. As Rodrigo Fresán wrote in El fondo del cielo (At the Bottom of the Sky): Welcome to the era of the strange things. Welcome to planet fiction.
Can you hear me, Major Tom?.
Can you “here am I floating ‘round my tin can
Far above the moon
Planet Earth is blue
and there’s nothing I can do
Released as a single in 1969, Space Oddity, the song by David Bowie, supposed to have been launched to coincide with the moon landing of Apollo 1, was used by the BBC in the covering of the moon mission. The arrival of man on the moon sang by one of the most beautiful Martians ever to have set foot on our earth.
As in the song of the White Duke, the works of Úrculo may be thought of as space oddities, in the sense of delimiting themselves from the idea of the rules of construction and/or documentation of the space missions, their work operating on the strangeness itself of these materials, from deconstruction, which is nothing more that a fiction of what is already a fiction; the simple idea of the construction of what is “real”.
Thus, we can distinguish three paths of approach into these perceived landscapes on which Úrculo works. Firstly, the re-construction of the elements that the documents NASA contribute into models that the artist has constructs and then uses as a starting point for different works: beginning with the photographic object to printed images or drawings in this aperture or the delimiting of the discipline that marks the defining features of his artistic production. As WJT Mitchell said: beyond the interdisciplinary and the trans-disciplinary, we must opt for the in-discipline. And that of Úrculo is in-disciplined is this sense, thus from the architectonic he proposes a deliberate drift towards the object, the image and installation.
The second path connects with earlier pieces by Úrculo in which, through a series of drawn words, he constructs an inventory of objects whose own material nature invites us to imagine the physicality of these elements; the names and the objects, which Foucault wrote, or the power of the sign in Institutional Critique. In this case the list of things or elements enumerated by Úrculo do not have a institutional space determined in the way of a collection or archive, but play with the idea of imagining the moon as an immense white cube which this list must catalogue.
Thirdly, taking the footage of the Apollo mission that NASA has conserved as reference, Úrculo proposes in this exhibition the beginning of a work which stresses performance of the real. Reality, as Butler would say; is non other than “a reception of gestures”, a choreography of movements that by repeating themselves become real, true, authentic. From this idea, of the real/fictitious, operating in in the field of the plausible, Úrculo proposes a work in progress of what will in the end become an opera libretto, conceived as a series of graphic symbols in which we may perceive the movements of two astronauts at the moment of the moon landing, as if it were a dance performance, a moon landing choreography, a dance in the moonscape. White noise as a background, a waltz for the astronauts.
Underneath the strobe lights
we’ll dance all night
I’m a little bit shy
easy on the eye
And at the slightest touch we’re in love
You and me and the moon, ooh, ooh
In 1995 I bought my first Magnetic Fields record, Get Lost. Among other wonderful songs like Smoke and Mirrors, Love is Lighter than Air or All the Umbrellas in London, one of my favourites is You and Me and the Moon. Synthesizer openning, accelerated disco-pop and two voices which suggest Brian Wilson, strobe lights and love on the moon as an accompaniment. I’m coming to the end of this text with this song in the background.
The moon is a white cube, a dance hall, a collection of abandoned ready-mades. The moon is an eroded object, and archive, a model. The moon is a perceived landscape, a carbon drawing, the libretto of a choreographed opera. Houston, Tranquillity base here, Luis Úrculo has made his moon landing in the Espai Tactel. Come and take a spin in my plane and we’ll visit the man in the moon.