Gaia is a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram.
Measuring seven metres in diameter, Gaia features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface*. The artwork provides the opportunity to see our planet on this scale, floating in three dimensions.
The installation aims to create a sense of the Overview Effect, which was first described by author Frank White in 1987. Common features of the experience for astronauts are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment. Watch this great film about the phenomenon.
A specially made surround sound composition by BAFTA award winning Composer Dan Jones is played alongside the sculpture. In Greek Mythology Gaia is the personification of the Earth.
The artwork is 1.8 million times smaller than the real Earth with each centimetre of the internally lit sculpture describing 18km of the Earth’s surface. By standing 211m away from the artwork, the public will be able to see the Earth as it appears from the moon.
Over its lifetime, Gaia will be presented in a number of different ways both indoors and outdoors. Depending on which country the artwork is presented in, and whether it is presented in a museum, science centre or parkland, the experience and interpretation of the artwork may alter.
Unlike the moon, which we have been gazing at for millennia, the first time humankind got to see the Earth as a blue marble floating in space was in 1968 with NASA’s Apollo 8 mission. At this moment, our perception and understanding of our planet changed forever. Hanging in the black emptiness of space the Earth seems isolated, a precious and fragile island of life. From a distance, the Earth is just a pale blue dot.
“I hope visitors to Gaia get to see the Earth as if from space; an incredibly beautiful and precious place. An ecosystem we urgently need to look after – our only home.
Halfway through the Earth’s six mass extinction, we urgently need to wake up, and change our behaviour. We need to quickly make the changes necessary, to prevent run away Climate Change.
I was amazed and delighted that my Museum of the Moon artwork has been so popular. I’m fully aware that 4 million members of the public haven’t been coming to see an artwork by ‘Luke Jerram’ but rather ‘the Moon’; an object of universal appeal and cultural significance. With this Gaia Earth artwork, I’m interested in just how different the experience and interpretation is. For our entire human existence we have been gazing up at the moon and projecting all our hopes, dreams and wishes up there. Whereas it was only in 1968 that we were able to see our planet floating in space. “ Luke Jerram
Gaia as a venue for events.
Gaia also acts as a venue, with local hosts creating their own programme of events to take place beneath the artwork. So far venues have held, orchestral and choral performances, Space lectures by astronauts, environmental discussions with scientists, yoga, poetry readings, religious ceremonies, Extinction Rebellion protests.
Created in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Bluedot and the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres. The artwork premiered at Bluedot Festival in July 2018.