Turn off the Moon

“Turn off the Moon” is a temporary interactive installation that centers on one streetlamp near the entrance to Waller Park in Bremen. On the ground around the lamp are 3 concentric circles of concrete sculptures, as if placed in a petrified orbit around the lamp. The sculptures are each shaped like one of the many urban animals that make their home in the park and are active at night. Motion sensors placed around the lamppost sense if any human or animal approaches within 5 meters of the lamp at night and a blackout curtain drops over the lamp, effectively turning it off for 1.5 minutes before the curtain is lifted again.

Many lifeforms exist in the orbit of light. Humans are particularly hesitant to function in darkness. In much of the west, darkness is vilified and considered an attribute of unsafe, untamed spaces. Light is relied on as a technological colonization of the night. In contrast, nocturnal species orient themselves and their behavior according to darkness. Some are drawn to the light; others actively avoid it to avoid predation; others orient themselves only by the moon (the brightest light in the night sky) but all have a specific relationship to light or the lack of it.

Anthropogenic light, like streetlamps and other night lighting, severely disrupts these relationships, disorienting the creatures we share our dark hours with. The installation, eerie in its almost ritualistic depiction of stone figures frozen in orbit around the streetlamp, thus twists the relation between human, non-human and anthropogenic light by disorienting the human in service of the non-human.

In this one location, human behavior will be dictated by nature and not the other way around. Further, when the lamp turns off, it creates a negative space within the park that is visible from outside the park gates. As such, passersby can watch the lamp turn on and off through the night, announcing that a rabbit or a passing duck or a rodent is present near the lamp. By playfully depriving us of the lit refuge we seek when approaching light, the installation proposes a refuge we can choose to offer to the many non-humans and urban wildlife who have quietly made Bremen home as well.

21.09.2023 – 16.10.2023


This project was supported by the Bremen Senator für Kultur’s office and the Umweltbetrieb Bremen.

Pictures by Clemens Hornemann