“Earthrise,” name popularly given to NASA image AS08-14-2383. It was taken by astronaut William Anders (Apollo 8 mission) from lunar orbit on December 24, 1968.

Since the very beginning of human history every population on Earth tried to communicate to something, or someone, above them. The Nazca Lines we had in Peru between 500 BC and AD 500, we had the Great Pyramid of Giza during the ancient Egypt period, as well as the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan and the Ziggurat of Ur. 

These actions share the will of being noticed and getting closer to a higher deity. The messages may present a thank, a request for benevolence or a plea for mercy, but can be summed up in the desire of a population of pointing out its own existence and determining its own identity. 

A few thousand years later, the Apollo program came from the same will and dynamics. 

Due to the social and technological evolution happened in the meantime, it appeared that the proper way to emphasize our existence in 1969 was to put a foot on the lunar soil. When this happened with Apollo 11 success, the immense symbolic and iconic value of the event allowed mankind to complete a radical perspective shift, giving a new interpretative framework to all human efforts that followed.

AS08-14-2383 is the codename of one of the most famous photographs ever. NASA’s astronaut William Anders shot it during the Apollo 8 mission on December 24, 1968. No other previous episode could have given mankind such a strong awareness of its habitat, which we have always superficially taken for granted. It is known that the photograph marked the transition to a new phase in the international commitment to the environmental issue. It is “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken” said Galen Rowell, and Al Gore emphasizes this fact in An Inconvenient Truth.

Moon landing during Apollo 11 mission is a further step. Man finally achieves his promise to conquer the Moon, physically reaching this new viewpoint that allows him not only to glance at the universe, but mostly at Earth, as it had never been possible before. At the same time, the mankind that reached the Moon has metabolized spiritual and operational changes that the mission demanded. The point of view has shifted, but the viewer has radically changed as well. 

After this exceptional event, we earned the awareness of our unique capability to impact the Universe we live in, and we should, as a whole, recognize the value and power of the tool of imagination, which is the fundamental element of the act of designing.

Going into outer space allowed us to understand that the one to whom we’ve been trying to communicate our existence for thousand of years is none other than ourselves, since watching planet Earth in its wholeness showed us that we are part of a single mankind that holds its fate in its own hands.

We understood to be both the sender and the receiver of every message, of every project or artifact, whatever the form and scale of it. In this light, we should consider our own limitations and the finiteness of the planet we have until now called home as useful boundaries for the definition of a shared project. 

As for pyramids, ziggurats and Nazca Lines, Apollo 11 is the result of an enormous effort proving that every time mankind wants to state its existence, it does so through incredible accomplishments that defy the impossible. Such projects are so astonishing that even today we look at them with amazement, sometimes even doubting their authenticity; but they, and many more, are possible simply thanks to the unique capacity of the human race to join forces and pursue a common imagined goal.

Methodologically, the tool of the project not only represents the most effective way to accomplish a result, but also incarnates the fundamental sense of collaboration that is necessary to reach any kind of goal. Through the project each individual finds its own purpose to which devoting its efforts and the form of sharing that, as for music, transcends the single into the collective.

Since December 1st we started the publication of the contributions selected between those who answered Quinta Colonna’s call on the theme “Apollo 11”.

During the next few weeks, typically on Saturday afternoons, you’ll discover the unique interpretations given by the authors, that will step by step paint the interpretative scenario orchestrated for the occasion.

Francesco Burlando, Luigi Mandraccio, Annapaola Vacanti

We thought it was love, instead it was an editorial board. (semicit.)

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