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.