If we were to describe our culture to alien races, there’s a good chance we would spend a good deal of time showing them our culture’s artwork. Apparently NASA astronauts held that same belief, when according to a new PBS documentary they smuggled miniaturized versions of various artwork onto the moon. The artwork was carried aboard Apollo 12 and was placed on a postage-stamp-sized chip.
According to USA Today that art work includes pieces by Andy Warhol and five other artists:
“For us, at the time, the moon landing was the most exciting thing that ever happened. The artists just wanted to be part of it,” says Myers, one of the six artists, including Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros and John Chamberlain, who made sketches. Representatives of Oldenburg and Chamberlain confirmed to USA TODAY that the artists had contributed to the effort.
During the 1960s, Myers was one of hundreds of New York artists working with Bell Labs engineers on the “Experiments in Arts and Technology” program. Wright traces for PBS how the artists’ sketches were shrunk onto rectangular half-inch-by-three-quarter-inch ceramic chips by two Bell Labs engineers, now deceased.
It’s not currently known which sketches were used for which artists, however PBS History Detectives may reveal those details when this particular episode airs on June 21st.