MOONPENNY is the code name for a series of structures at the US satellite and communications base at RAF Menwith Hill, near Harrogate in Yorkshire: part of the Echelon global electronic surveillance system run by the NSA. Menwith Hill is a *listening* station, as opposed to a broadcast station (such as the Lincolnshire Poacher number station) in the global spy network. It uses sophisticated equipment to monitor various forms of communication (phone, email etc), searching for particular targeted words and phrases. Set in the heather speckled moors of northern England the installation contains numerous geodesic radar domes (called "radomes") as well as a series of interconnecting roads and a central set of buildings. MOONPENNY is the rather poetic designation for the radio dishes contained within these radome structures.
MOONPENNY (the work of art) is a vector rendering of the Google maps aerial photograph of the Menwith Hill site. In keeping with several earlier works it addresses issues of secrecy, communication, forbidden territories, and the natural environment. Like much of my work MOONPENNY is also an investigation of mimesis and abstraction: the point at which a reproduction becomes sufficiently divorced from its referent as to become an object on its own. Finally, MOONPENNY comes with its own miniature library: print-outs of text and images culled from the internet and held in place by chains that mimic those of medieval libraries. I enjoy the humor of reversing the trajectory from print-to-e and of making copies "precious"; it does also make browsing rather easy.