Luna City 2175

Collaborative Process

Luna City:2175 began as a question – if humans were to live off Earth, where would we go? How could we build a sustainable community? What would day to day live be like? These are questions that cannot be answered through one expertise alone – so CSI, along with the Herberger Institute, SFIS, and the Fulton School of Engineering, built a collaborative pool of geologists, planetary scientists, engineers, artists, architects, and future thinkers to answer these questions.

Through two days of creative devising – including discussion, debate, and lots of legos, we created the idea of a Luna City – an industrial hub turned research outpost turned artist community nestled in the Shackleton Crater on the south pole of the moon. Surrounded by the luminous peaks of eternal light, our community of the future was a beautiful idea, but needed to be more rigorously designed.

Along the 9-month building process, over 200 collaborators added their ideas and expertise into the mix. You’re an architect? What would a community space on the moon look like? You’re a geologist? Could we build structures out of the surface of the moon? You’re an actor? Create a character of a water miner, a renegade scientist, an artist-in-residence.

As the ideas came together – a team of writers and performers came together to begin developing what would be an invitation to the audience – “come live on the moon with us”.

Immersive Experience

As the audience stepped up to the door of the Emerge Festival, the received a visitor badge: Welcome to Luna City. As the stepped through the airlock into the lobby, they were greeting by a bustling space port. The latest VR technology, a real-time Earth Simulator (for those who got homesick while on the moon), and the local population of artists, miners, researchers, and a few unsavory black-market dealers who may sell you some rare goods.

If audience members wanted to truly experience life on the moon, they lined up for a hyperloop ride to Neighborhood 83 – a fully built and immersive slice-of-life on the moon. In Neighborhood 83, they could meet Aisha, the dancer poet who would lead them in a meditation in the Earth-view room. Or Thorium, the singer scientists who fled Earth to conduct his illegal genetic experiments. Or Jay, the gardener who wistfully speaks of his lover who is stuck back on Earth.

During the tour, the audience was also invited to participate in one of several local rituals. In one ritual, a recently deceased member of the Lunar community was celebrated, and her remains were lovingly given back into the carbon-cycle of the system. In another, members of the Neighborhood sat in a circle and openly talked about the conflicts they had with one another – seeking reparations and community openly. Each tour was an exchange – the audience could ask questions and learn more about the Luna City, while they offered their presence and attention during community moments.

Luna City News

Students in Ed Finn’s AME 310: Media Literacies and Composition course played an important role in the worldbuilding around Emerge 2018. Working from a “story bible” or set of core narrative facts about the future reality of Luna City: 2175, students identified major events in a timeline of the city’s future history and created their own news articles bringing those fictional historical moments to life. Selected news stories from the class were projected onto a wall in the Emerge space under a Luna City News banner. The Luna City News logo itself changed based on the date of each story, reflecting the fact that Luna City News would have evolved and changed over the 150 year span that these stories covered, taking us from the present day to 2175. CSI intern Dakota Thompson designed the changing Luna City News Banners as well as contributing an original piece of sculpture to the Emerge lobby commemorating a key historical event in the fictional timeline, a major mining disaster on the Moon.

Luna City Debate

Living and thriving on the Moon is a difficult proposition. Not only will off-world pioneers face the unique challenges of resource scarcity and physiological deficiencies brought about by the lunar environment, but human desires and foibles will ride-along on rocket ship, no matter how far we go.

This was the focus of the Luna City Town Hall, a signature performance amid the Emerge 2018 experience. Audiences were invited to attend a political debate between two factions of Luna City residents, moderated by Eric Molinsky, host of the Imaginary Worlds podcast. In this stirring, live debate Molinsky, playing a fictional (and future) version of himself, discussed the merits and potential dangers of collectivism versus individualism on the Moon with talented improvisers Camille Hartmetz and Jose Gonzalez.

Eric kindly published the entire debate as a podcast episode which can be heard at Imaginary Worlds.

Unique Twists on Uniformity: Clothing Fashion of Luna City

by Melissa Waite and the Luna City costume design team.
“Clothing helps tell the story of Luna City residents and is a visual display of their culture. Life in Luna City in the year 2175 is much different than life on Earth: Luna City, though abundant in certain ways, is still a desolate and difficult place to live, and its settlers have left the consumeristic mindset and become minimalists.” As these residents personalize a uniform suit with unique scarves and shawls, “these customizations tell their story and give them personality and dimension” within the future world of Luna City.

Ancient Passages: Echoes of Luna City

An exploratory storytelling soundscape curated by Shomit Barua. A multi-narrative sound installation: seven thematic speaker clusters are placed around the periphery of the main space, in niches, corners, and the ends of hallways. They are unobtrusive, registering more as a layer of whispers. The voices in each cluster talk about a time in Luna City history in first-person monologues; as they play, different perspectives of the events of that time emerge. “You the audience become both passive and active participants; passive as you listen to the monologues, and active as your own attention and movement curates your experience.”

Directed and produced by Shomit Barua

Shomit Barua
Jenna Duncan
Ken Eklund
Sheryl Glubok
Jesse Grodman
Ian James
Dominic Miller
Leah Newsom
Daisy Nolz
Dan Piatkowski
Nicole Audrey Spector
Phil Weaver-Stoesz
Zach Workman

Vocal performers:
Sheryl Glubok
Ronnie Gossamer
and many others


A dance performance by Miquella Young and Meredith Matsen. Choreographed by Meredith Matsen and Miquella Young; original score by Jess Matsen. A dance “that explores the first Buddhist principle of existence: impermanence, the natural tendency towards change. Two dancers represent contrasting experiences of this constant flux; they perform in a circle, delicately shaping patterns with fingers, toes, heels, elbows, and knees that suggest a mandala symbolizing the Bhavacakra, or Buddhist wheel of life or circle of existence. Dancers must first overcome the three inner circles of ignorance, attachment, and aversion.” The sound score follows a wave-like structure, flowing in and out of harmony and cacophony. In the conclusion, the dancers step outside their circle and stand in connection with the audience, before rejoining at the center of the circle, in peace. “At its heart, Anicca is about the interaction between humans and their environment.”

Satellite Lounge

A collaborative space for artwork creation from found objects, by James Rickard, with Jean Rickard. “An interactive space for visitors and residents alike to sit and relax, talk with others, or participate in creating one of the artworks that have been emerging around Luna City. Make yourself at home and use the found components to manipulate the work and add your own personal touches.” Luna City is generally diligent about recycling items, but the materials here either represent an overload or “just seem to hold promise to be upcycled as art, in hopes of making our city a more beautiful place.”

Luna City Ecosystems

A collaborative textile workspace and creation led by Megan Driving Hawk. Working with fabric and found materials in values of gray, black, blue and green, residents and visitors to Luna City create various textures and spaces that visually resemble the moon, earth, and areas of habitation. “This collaborative textile work has become a ritual for inhabitants of Luna City to recognize where we’ve been, where we are, how we’ve lived, and where we are going. It’s a history marker written by the people for the people to come after them.” This piece begins the festival in multiple pieces and in the end the fiber labor of the audience is connected together to express the collective views about the mining of Shackleton Crater and the current status of lunar ecological thinking.

Emerge 2018: Luna City

In March 2018, Emerge transformed the state-of-the-art Galvin Playhouse on ASU’s Tempe campus into a rich, immersive experience grounded in space-science research and the inspirational vision of our Writer at Large, Kim Stanley Robinson. Visitors could see, hear, touch and play the future in our unfolding story of human habitation beyond Planet Earth.

Our immersive experience transported guests to an alternate world: Luna City, a bustling metropolis on the Moon in the year 2175. Luna City’s singular history and authentic reality is a synthesis of art and space science, a gateway into a complex vision of a human future lived in a place separate from yet intimately connected with our own.

Emerge 2017: Frankenstein

The festival’s 2017 theme is Frankenstein, a 200-year old novel that still motivates us to think critically about our creative agency and scientific responsibility. This year EMERGE invites visitors into a house of wonder filled with speculative technologies, fortune tellers, music and film, and performative experiments that blur the boundaries between art and science. The festival revisits the past in order to reframe our sense of the present and inspire imagination of plausible futures, and asks what we can learn today by looking at emerging science and technology through the lens of art. Held concurrently with Night of the Open Door, during which ASU invites the public into its laboratories and studios, EMERGE focuses a critical eye on the future implications of research taking place on campus and around the world. Visit us at the University Club and the Piper Lawn February 25th, from 3-9PM for installations and performances designed for all ages.

Radio Healer

Radio Healer is a Native American and Xicano led artist collective in Phoenix, Arizona. The collective is Edgar Cardenas, Randy Kemp, Ashya Flint, Mere Martinez, Rykelle Kemp, Cristóbal Martínez, Melissa S. Rex, Devin Armstrong-Best, and Raven Kemp. As a group, these hacker-artists create indigenous electronic tools, which they use with traditional indigenous tools to perform indigenous reimagined ceremony. Through their immersive environments, comprised of moving images, tools, regalia, performance, and sound, the collective bends media to position visual and sonic metaphors that make the familiar strange.

Radio Healer is particularly interested in the seemingly ordinary semiotic systems that, when observed, become irrational, inefficient, deceptive, and contradictory. These systems encode assumptions, ideologies in discourses, and dilemmas that concretize the cultural systems that shape notions of reality. Radio Healer’s goals are to disrupt these notions by creating environments that provide audiences with opportunities to engage in a heightened sense of criticality about the systems we create, maintain, and adapt. The collective strives to mediate complexity capable of catalyzing public discourse, and to demonstrate indigenous self-determination through an indigenous knowledge systems approach to design, and uses of hacked tools for hacking semiotic systems. Through these goals, Radio Healer performs inclusive re-imagined ceremonies during which the public is invited to reflect on human exigencies and dilemmas tied to obsolescence, acceleration, warfare, borders, hyper-surveillance, land use, cybernetics, market systems, historical amnesia, hi-velocity global multi-nodal networks, and the trans-mediated market valorization of human bodies.

Radio Healer performs indigenous re-imagined ceremony with electronic and acoustic instruments. To prepare for ceremony, the collective produces software and aesthetically symbolic electronic ceremonial tools that are designed to mediate the collective’s live performances of moving images, sound and dance. The collective applies indigenous intercultural knowledge systems such as Xicana/o rasquache, Lowrider chop shop, and Native American adaptive reuse traditions for the design, construction, and practice of ceremonial tools. These traditions demonstrate appropriations and adaptations of foreign cultural artifacts and materials, as well as the use of local materials to innovate functional and aesthetic musical instrument technologies that encode Radio Healer’s indigenous worldview. The following examples were constructed through hacking via circuit-bending, appropriation, salvaging, coding, recycling, adaptive reuse, and improvisation. As they mediate visual, sonic, and discursive complexity, these implements operationalize the collective’s indigenous sovereignty—they are the Radio Healer’s self-determined adaptations of materials and tools.

Photos by Edgar Cardenas, Courtesy of Radio Healer.

War Arrow (2009) is an granular synthesizer featuring 2 resonance filters and oscillators tuned to a Native American pentatonic flute scale.

Marionette (2015) is a hacked Gametrack Video Game Controller for Sony Playstation 3.

Electric Breath

Electric Breath is a screening series that traces Frankensteinian themes in film history and contemporary video and animation. From monstrous avatars struggling to thrive in, or escape from, virtual worlds to animal-headed humans narrating a drowned city, the screening presents a forecast by turns satirical, dreamy and dystopian. Works byMarina ZurkowClaudia HartEva DavidovaTakashi MurataCarla GannisEdison Studios and Hilary Harp and Suzie Silver explore the parables that haunt modernity’s ongoing encounter with the seductions of technology. An outdoor screening will take place on the lawn next to University Club and an indoor series will screen inside the building in the Sky Room. For further information please visit:


Katie Torn, Breathe Deep

Claudia Hart, Dark Knight


Marina Zurkow, Slurb

Biodesign Challenge

The Biodesign Challenge is an annual research program and national competition that offers art and design students the opportunity to envision future applications of biotechnology. On view will be two of the winning projects: Stabilimentum is a couture mask that filters air using live spiders and the electrostatic properties of their silk. Starter Culture Kit is a biomaterials starter kit designed to introduce makers to the expansive world of biomaterials, which include bioplastics, mycelium and silk proteins, which can be propagated and shared among makers. ASU’s students will be competing next year.

Biodesign Challenge, Stabilimentum

Mónica Butler, Rebecca Van Sciver, Jiwon Woo
Latin for support, Stabilimentum is a couture mask that filters air using live spiders and the electrostatic properties of their silk. Inspired by the symbiotic relationship between humans and the microbiome, the fashion accessory creates a symbiosis between human and arachnid.

Biodesign Challenge, Starter Culture
Biodesign Challenge, Starter Culture

Gage Branda, Sarah Whelton, Jake O’Hagan, Emma Whitlock
A biomaterials starter kit designed to introduce makers to the expansive world of biomaterials, the contents of the Starter Culture kit, which include bioplastics, mycelium and silk proteins, can be propagated and shared among makers.


Edibleskin imagines a future in which fashion becomes merely an extension of the body. From growing and consuming second-skins, to grown materials extending and altering the relationship with materials on the body, to swallowable pills that cause cellulose-material to form on the surface of skin, the work uses biotechnology and biomaterials to explore an alternative future where the relation between living and non-living, things and bodies, is expanded and blurred. These speculative future rituals of self-fashioning ultimately invite critical discussion of the ways in which we shape biotechnology in relation to everyday life.

Ali Schachtschneider, photographed by Hiu Zhi Wei

Ali Schachtschneider, photographed by Hiu Zhi Wei

Ali Schachtschneider, photographed by Hiu Zhi Wei

Cloud Services

With informational weather, Cloud Services inaugurates a new eco-epistemology, new apprehensions of the air that enter into compositions with social experiences. The project is an exploration of the interwoven layers of the infosphere, from the physical and material to the biological, and to cultural – the processes through which we disseminate knowledge, communicate meaning, define our values and beliefs, while, through entanglement of human and natural processes, we physically imprinting ourselves into the materiality of the earth.

In explicit integration of computation and environment, Cloud Services points to the fact that we already have the infosphere in our atmosphere and in our stomachs. Analogous to proposals in fields of synthetic biology, geo-engineering or artificial intelligence, the Cloud Services proposal pits the engineering mindset against our gut instincts suggesting what is in principle possible, but what sounds audacious. We present it as a scenario for developing a meaningful discussion around the ethical, social and governance issues raised by planetary-scale technology deployments and direction of research and innovation. It is also a reflection on the present, on materialities of data and on natural systems conceived as information systems.

Cloud Services founders see this technology as a response to the ecological crisis, leading to an emergence of new structures of power arising from countering the ideal of speed, access on demand, and operability. With the natural channels of the biosphere becoming the physical infrastructure for transmission and storage of data, access to knowledge is reorganized, and new sets of networked relationships develop. Information arrives when the weather arrives, making the weather, once again, not incidental but essential to our lives. We tune in to the flows of the atmosphere, to the exchanges between the land an the air, to the energy transfers of the planetary system.

Cloud Services is based on research into the role that microorganisms play in the atmospheric biome, and the interactions of this biome with the land, and the weather. A field test of Cloud Services technology was done in Finnish Lapland.

Cloud Services field test site in a sparsely populated area in Finnish Lapland