In Event of Moon Disaster (IEOMD) is a deepfake art installation about the Apollo 11 mission. The mission was the culmination of the post-World War II “space race” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The competition began with President Dwight D. Eisenhower and was reinvigorated by John F. Kennedy, who in 1961 declared a “crewed lunar landing and return to Earth” to be a central goal for the nation. The quest was as much a civic effort to advance humanistic scientific inquiry as it was an opportunity to trumpet U.S. power and its superiority over its Cold War adversary.
Richard Nixon was in the White House by the time of the moon-bound Apollo 11 mission, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 16, 1969. This exploratory enterprise involved distinct risks. The tremendous distance the astronauts had to travel, combined with the complex maneuvering necessary to both land the module on the unruly lunar terrain and guide it back to earth were major challenges.
On July 20, approximately 650 million people watched commander Neil Armstrong on TV as he set foot on the moon and uttered the famous words: “…one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” As journalists for print and broadcast covered each stage of the journey (including over 32-hours of TV programming on July 20-21), the Apollo 11 mission was one of the first global media events.
References “Apollo 11: Overview,” NASA website https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/missions/apollo11.html. Tiffany Hsu, “The Apollo 11 Mission was also a Global Media Sensation,” New York Times, July 15, 2019; Robert Stone and Alan Adres, Chasing the Moon: The People, the Politics, and the Promise that Launched America into the Space Age (New York: Ballantine, 2019). Image credits: Background image from In Event of Moon Disaster, Halsey Burgund and MIT. First photo AS11-40-5948, NASA, History Office and the NASA JSC Media Services Center. Second photo, Lee Balterman, LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images.