"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
The Times JULY 21, 2009 - by Michael Moran
APOLLO ATMOSPHERES AND SOUNDTRACKS LIVE AT THE SCIENCE MUSEUM
To celebrate the Science Museum's centenary, and not incidentally the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 landings, Sound And Music are presenting special screenings of Al Reinert's official Apollo documentary For All Mankind at the Science Museum's IMAX cinema.
There has already been good deal of Apollo hullaballoo a in the past couple of weeks, but the sheer scale of the achievement - as well as the astoundingly compressed time frame in which it was made - warrants all the attention. As Open University space scientist John Zarnecki pointed out in his introductory speech, the Apollo project made us realise that 'outrageous things were possible'.
Indeed, the samples and measurements that collected by the Apollo crews still inform serious research today. And of course we shouldn't forget that the fuzzy pictures beamed back from the lunar surface inspired today's breed of researchers. Zarnecki says of watching the landings as a teenager, "After standing next to Gagarin at Highgate cemetery it was my second great Eureka moment."
Brian Eno himself was on hand to introduce the performance. He is simultaneously impressed with Apollo's legacy, saying "I think this is the most magnificent thing that Mankind has ever achieved", but pessimistic about the future: "I think we won't do anything so glamorous and ambitious ever again."
The live rendition was as new to Eno as it was to the audience. Composer Woojun Lee created the new arrangements of the 1983 album for future-classical ensemble Icebreaker.
Every astronaut in the programme was allowed to one cassette tape of music on the mission. With the exception of one maverick who favoured Berlioz all of them chose Country music to accompany the long, lonely voyage. It's for that reason that Eno crafted the "Zero Gravity Country & Western" featuring long-time collaborator Daniel Lanois on pedal steel guitar. Doyen of steel players BJ Cole is standing in for Lanois for these two special events.
The footage is grainy, flecked with dust and mute, but the low tech nature of the images only serves to remind you what basic tools those pioneers were working with and what a miracle it is that there are any pictures at all.
It's unlikely that anyone attending these performances will ever visit that great dusty cement garden that haunts our night sky but seeing images of the Earth on the enormous IMAX screen gives a small inkling of the global perspective granted only to those twelve travellers to another world.
If you can make it to South Kensington this evening, and have any interest in Brian Eno, or space travel, or both, I strongly recommend going along.