When I first saw the photographs taken by the Apollo astronauts in the photo book
“Full Moon” by Michael Light, I was stunned that the moon shows virtually the same monochromatic landscape regardless of whether the images use color or black-and-white film. The only things that show color are those that the astronauts brought with them from the Earth.
I then imagined, what if people who were born and brought up on the moon traveled the opposite route as the Apollo astronauts and landed on Earth? What would they sense?
First of all, they would probably be amazed by the abundant colors seen on the ground at their feet. Unlike the ground of the moon, which is gray or almost colorless, the Earth is flooded with colors such as white and beige beaches, green landscapes overgrown with grass, or carpets of colorful flowers.
And there is the presence of the air and wind, factors that continuously change the appearance of the sea and ground. When God takes a gentle breath over the Tuvalu sea, the surface changes instantly. The waters flow moment by moment from one shimmering gemlike form into another. These gems are ephemeral treasures that can be possessed by no one, not for all the riches in the world.
On the moon, by contrast, astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s bootprint still lies on the atmosphereless surface exactly as when Aldrin photographed it, there on the fine sand as if frozen from millions of years ago.
Overhead, the sky is an awesome blue, and white clouds drift by in ever-changing shapes as if they were dancing, a sight that would be unimaginable on the moon.
On Earth, you never see the same landscape twice. Each is an encounter that occurs only once in a lifetime. The essence of Earth’s beauty lies in its mutability, transience, and unstoppable succession of evolution and change. That we all must eventually die and fade away—that is precisely what lends life on Earth its joy.
The act of photographing the sea and sky of Tuvalu, where the energies of the land and heavens join magnificently together in momentary flashes of bliss, equals nothing less than gathering up some of the sparkling fragments of this happiness.
(Tuvalu is the islands known to be the first country in the world to sink from the effects of global warming)