"Oculus Gazer II" by Rik Allen (look closely
to enjoy the beach chairs!)
My moon walk took place at Imagine Museum in St. Pete. The tech guy strapped me into my VR googles and left me to enjoy the ride. Within moments, I was approaching the pockmarked moon. Watching the moon edge ever nearer had a significantly greater impact than merely looking at pictures. It was so beautiful that tears came to my eyes. (I am serious.)
We jumped back in time, and I was in the cockpit with Neil and Buzz. I was so busy looking out the window that it took me a few moments to realize I had companions. Hello, guys! My fellow astronauts were bouncing around a bit as we exited the Earth's atmosphere. Soon a pen was floating in front of me. I was tempted to take off my goggles -- my seat belt equivalent -- and see if I was likewise weightless.
|"Aliens" by Martin Janecky|
Before I knew it, it was time for the lunar module to detach and land on the moon. Again, I felt quite nervous despite knowing all would go well. The module seemed so tiny and fragile in the midst of all that emptiness. Then I heard the words that would become part of the American vernacular, "The Eagle has landed."
Soon Neil had jumped off the module onto the grainy sand-like surface of the moon. Through his audio, the entire world could hear him say, "One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." (There's some dispute as to whether Neil included the word "a" before "man." A possible slip of tongue seems quite a small thing to criticize given the physical and emotional stress he'd endured and the enormity of the event. And it's not like he suddenly started talking about something crazy like airports on the moon.)
|By Imagine Museum benefactor Trish Duggan|
I was visibly emotional when the experience came to an end. Perhaps it was the sense that our country was truly united on that day that did me in. We are living in a time when such unity is hard to fathom, even for a few moments.
|"Dancing Cells" by Eric Hilton and James Allen|
Only "Dancing Cells" by Eric Hilton and James Allen requires an explanation as to its connection to the moon landing. As you stood before the work, the colors continually morphed into new patterns. According to a docent, the algorithm integrated into the work is such that no pattern will ever be repeated. (Click here to see a video of the piece in action.) The software behind the work was created by James Allen. Allen's resume also includes writing software for NASA to aid in the analysis of moon rocks and to configure the International Space Station.
To read more about the VR programs available at Imagine Museum, click here. And to learn more about the museum more generally, click here. The incredibly stunning Karen LaMonte: Floating Worlds exhibit, which I wrote about previously, continues to be on display through the end of the year. It is truly out of this world.