Moonlight Sonatas

Text and photography by Harvey Lloyd

A New View of Light and the Universe as a Hologram

As Observed In Einstein’s Theories, Quantum QED Space/time

& The Quantum Influenced Art of Digital Photography




Things cannot go faster than or be smaller than light because that is what they are made of. There is no medium for light in the physical world because light is not in the physical world. The physical world is in light. Light is visual consciousness itself.
—SAMUEL AVERY, Transcendence of the Western Mind

Revolutionary “quantum” power creates a new kind of image never before seen from a digital or any other camera. The images titled “Moonlight Sonatas” are each made during single exposures in my digital camera. They are made at night during different phases of the moon. These strangely beautiful and enigmatic images reveal the moon as it might be seen by light, if light quanta or waves were aware of what they “see.” As written below, Einstein’s theories say that time stops at the speed of light. All of time, from the beginnings of the universe some 15 billion years ago to our own are or may be simultaneous to a ray of light.


The Space-time Hologram

The movements of the moon seen in these images occurs, whether over years, or millions and billions of years. Light experiences the moon’s movements as part of a universal hologram of oneness. This space-time hologram is in theory, the universe we know (see below). QED or Quantum Electrodynamics and Eastern metaphysics rule in our universe.The moon shares in the indeterminacy theory of Werner Heisenberg, Neils Bohr and the Copenhagen Interpretation. Einstein refused to accept his own discovery of quanta and proclaimed the moon was there whether he looked at it or not. Einstein was wrong. The media loved him.

Einstein’s theory of relativity and of the nature of light and space/time turned Newton’s world upside down. Together with the discovery of quantum electrodynamics and the strange fact that light moves in discrete quanta as well as waves, they heralded the advent of quantum electrodynamics (quantum physics) and the digital revolution. Einstein theorized that gravity was the curvature of space time in the presence of mass. Objects appear to fall because they take the shortest distance in curved space time, from stars like the sun to giant planets such as Jupiter, down to Newton’s apple and raindrops.


Add that “the mass of a body is a measure of its energy content (E=mc2),’ and you have an astonishing new vision of the universe from the movements of heavenly bodies, the nature of light, and particles too tiny to see and almost too tiny to imagine—Planck length. (The Planck length is the scale at which classical ideas about gravity and space-time cease to be valid, and quantum effects dominate. This is the ‘quantum of length’, the smallest measurement of length with any meaning. – It is so small that a comparing a grain of sand to planet earth is not even close. Moonlight is light, photons that are simultaneously wave/particles according to quantum physicist Schrodinger. Whether photons exist other than a probabilities when unobserved is a question that quantum mechanics tries to resolve with the Copenhagen Interpretation.


Light is the Universe

Light is the universe itself. Light is  not in our universe, we are in light’s universe. That is why no matter how fast you move towards matching the speed of light, light everywhere moves away from you at the same speed of 186,000 miles per second. Einstein’s theory of gravity was proven by experiments which showed changes in positions of the stars in images taken during total eclipses. That meant that space around the sun was curved. It did not mean that the sun was there when unobserved. The Copenhagen Interpretation has been much disputed but is largely accepted after one hundred years as scientific fact. The universe is stranger than we know and quantum mechanics is stranger as well.

The Quantum Enigma

Quantum physics brought with it Heisenberg’s principle of indeterminacy, which in short, states that you cannot at one time know the position and the speed of an electron or other quantum particle. In other words, Newton’s view of a universe in which if you could measure everything, all past and future would be revealed was trashed. Einstein could not accept quantum indeterminacy, although his own paper stating that light moved in quanta began the quantum physics revolution. “God does not play dice with the universe,” he said. To which quantum physicist Neils Bohr, his friend and frequent opponent said, “Don’t tell God what to do.” A spawn of that revolution is the new quantum physics and metaphysics influenced art of photography. MOONLIGHT SONATAS tears the veil from the very fabric of Einstein’s space time to peer in the enigmas and mysteries of quantum mechanics and light’s universe.

The True Face of the Earth

From YELLOWSTONE: The Devil’s Volcano and DEAD SEA MIRAGES, to THE QUANTUM GHOST, BROOKLYN BRIDGE, and a vast number of images from BREAKING THE LIGHT (The Camera Also Dances, Syncopation, Homage to Motherwell, Vortex, Broadway Boogie Woogie, Enigmas, Gates, Electricity, etc.), all partake of the theory. Each images is made during a single exposure in my digital camera as seen here. There is no manipulation in Photoshop.

The power of the high end digital camera coupled to quantum physics and metaphysics to reveal the true face of the earth appears in this blog. “What you see is what you get,” traditional still film camera images vanish into the arcane mystery of quantum indeterminacy. Noble prize winner physicist Richard Feynman said, “While some few scientists around the earth thoroughly understand Einstein’s theories, no one, including me, understands quantum physics.” Art is not a matter of logical understanding. It is knowledge in the blood, knowledge that like an oracle, dissimulates and perplexes where most it informs.

Art causes an emotional. Intuitive and instinctive reaction revealed from the racial consciousness of billions of years of evolution’s trying to understand herself. It is a magical witch’s golden brew of the beautiful, astonishing, .damned, holy and the eternally unknown. The extraordinary images taken from satellites of the face of the earth are often doctored by imaging software to make clear certain physical features that scientists use to appraise weather, agriculture, droughts, global warming and other aspects visible on the crust.

The images shown here go beyond that needed artifice to peer into the mysterious realms of quantum electrodynamics and indeterminacy. We are privileged viewers who see beneath the masks that we call the surface of the earth and the myriads of moons, planets, suns and galaxies that fill the night skies, such as our own moon. We see “what isn’t there!”


The Time/Speed of Light Barrier

Einstein’s theories suggest that time stops at the speed of light. All time, from the beginnings of the universe some 15 billion years ago to our own may be simultaneous to a wave/particle or all wave/particles of light. It is disingenuous for scientists to say that light travels millions of light years to reach us from distant galaxies. Time travel is “instantaneous” to a massless photon or photons of light. Light, in the quantum world, does not know time.

The movements of the moon seen in these images take place whether over years or millions and billions of years. Light experiences the moon’s movements across the universe as part of a gigantic hologram of oneness. This space-time hologram is in theory, the real universe that we inhabit. QED or Quantum Electrodynamics rules in this universe. These abstract images in the series reveal space/time vision at the speed of light, and display timeless changes in the earth and in the saga of evolution and man’s creation over time lengths of billions down to hundreds of thousands or thousands of years, or even seconds.


China’s greatest poet Li Bai (eighth century) wrote of the moon:

Drinking Alone by Moonlight

A pot of wine, under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
For her, with my shadow, will make three people.

The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
I must make merry before the Spring is spent.

To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
While we were sober, three shared the fun;
Now we are drunk, each goes their way.
May we long share our eternal friendship,
And meet at last in the paradise.


Light Redux

“Almost everything we know comes to us in the form of reflected light,” wrote George Johnson in his book, Fire in the Mind. He goes on to say, “The universe we directly experience is generated almost entirely through the play of electrons and protons, a dance whose steps are laid out in one of the supreme accomplishments of twentieth century science, a theory called Quantum Electrodynamics or QED.”

I make no case for understanding the physics or mathematics of QED or quantum mechanics. As a curious layman, I approach it with caution. Richard Feynman, Noble Prize winning physicists and one of the founding fathers of QED said, “I think it’s safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics. Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, ‘But how can it possibly be like that?’…Nobody knows how it can be like that.” I’ll take refuge in Feynman’s quotes. That said, I propose that QED and Relativity attempt to unravel the greater mystery of time and the speed of light. In short, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity demands that time slows down as you move towards the speed of light, and mass increases. Nothing that has mass can attain the speed of light because the mass would become infinite and that is impossible. Further, Einstein theorized that time slows down as you approach the speed of light. At light speed time stops. Light therefore does not and cannot experience time as we do.


I say “experience” in an anthropic way, because we cannot know what, if anything, light experiences. A ray of light from a distant star that takes a billion or two billion years to reach earth has not known time as we know it. A ray of light leaves the star and arrives here at one and the same time as far as it is concerned. QED posits that light’s position at any time is probabilistic. The wave exists in a superposition state of infinite probabilities until it is observed. Dr. Christian here expresses the physicists view of time stopping.

The standard equation for “time dilation” is that the time passing on Earth will equal the time on the object * 1/sqrt(1-((v*v)/(c*c))), where v is the velocity of the object and c is the speed of light. At v=c this goes to infinity, or in other words, time would stop for an object moving at the speed of light. This is not a problem because objects can’t go at the speed of light — it would take an infinite amount of energy (and their mass would also become infinite).


“The QED phenomenon requires that light exists simultaneously in the entire universe. That is because according to QED all matter is a form of light. Go further, and light waves only collapse into matter or particles when they are measured or viewed (The Copenhagen Interpretation by Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and others). The concept that reality only exists when we observe it is not new with quantum physics. Carl Friedrich von Weiszsacker, who, while participating in a colloquium at Cambridge denied the Copenhagen interpretation, asserted: “What cannot be observed does not exist”. He suggested instead that the Copenhagen interpretation follows the principle: “What is observed certainly exists; about what is not observed we are still free to make suitable assumptions. We use that freedom to avoid paradoxes.”

Physicist and one of quantum mechanics fathers Max Born, in “The Born Rule asserted, “The description of nature is essentially probabilistic, with the probability of an event related to the square of the amplitude of the wave function related to it.” I conclude that we cannot know nature as it is, we can only know what we think about nature. As I am not a physicist or mathematician, I will visit Eastern philosophy for further enlightenment.

Eastern Philosophy & Quantum Physics

Modern science is coming to the Buddha’s view of the Universe. The recent conclusions of quantum physics are that the universe is one organic whole.This is what the eastern philosophies have been saying through the ages – be it Hinduism, Buddhism or Taoism…Our own separate existence is nothing but a concept in our minds. In reality there is just the one organic. Universe and we never were and never will be separate from it. This is the view of the Buddha.
–Eastern Philosophy and Meditation (Internet)

We confront a startling, if not altogether new, idea of who and what we are. We and the universe are one. Quantum physics, through the premise of complimentarity, strongly implies that the observer and the observed cannot be separate as classical physics allows. They are inextricably intertwined. One cannot know the other or exist without the other being present.

Fritjof Capra, in his book The Tao of Physics, wrote, “The most important characteristic of the Eastern world view – one could almost say the essence of it- is the awareness of the unity and mutual interrelation of all things and events, the experience of all phenomena in the world as manifestations of a basic oneness. All things are seen as interdependent and inseparable parts of this cosmic whole; as different manifestations of the same ultimate reality.”

The moon in Moonlight Sonatas apparently has multiple identities. It is the moon we see in the sky at night. It is the moon that light “sees” over the entire life of the moon in the solar system. When the sun in five billion years or so has consumed its hydrogen fuel it will become a red giant. The inner planets and their moons up to and including Earth will be swallowed and all life on Earth destroyed. It is the moon of poets and lovers, the moon of poet Li Po who is said to have drowned while drinking wine in a boat and watching the moon reflected in a lake. It is Oscar Wilde’s, “Beauty is a form of genius – is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.”

We have known the classic and poetic visions and images of the moon. There is no end to creating, and to renewed discovery of even the most seemingly difficult subjects. These explorations, these new visions help make our lives richer. Moonlight Sonatas presents QED or quantum images of the moon as seen by light in our holographic universe. It is the eternal moon, the moon of romance and of poetry. It is the sacred hoop, forever circling the sky and the universe. It is pure beauty.

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since
it is life.


The Universe as a Hologram

University of London physicist David Bohm…believes (Aspect’s findings) imply that objective reality does not exist, that despite its apparent solidity the universe is at heart a phantasm, a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram…every part of a hologram contains all the information possessed by the whole…At its deeper level reality is a sort of superhologram in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously…It must be seen as a sort of cosmic storehouse of “All That Is.”
—MICHAEL TALBOT, The Holographic Universe

If, as we have suggested, the universe is composed of light which we experience as matter as well as light, the holographic model seems accurate. We have seen that light may not experience time as we know it. If all time is simultaneous then the entire billions of years of life of the known universe occupy a superposition of probabilities. We experience time as a progression of instants that become our days, weeks, months, years. QED makes all of time one great poem or saga that we humans experience in our own anthropic way. I repeat the words of Samuel Avery, “There is no medium for light in the physical world because light is not in the physical world. The physical world is in light.”

I photograph the moon because it is beautiful. Each phase of the moon displays an incandescent lovely presence in the night. Witness the brilliant symmetry of the full moon, the half moon, and the elegant curvature of the crescent and waning moon. It is a sonata that plays a melody of balance and asymmetrical oneness. Moonlight Sonatas began at the beginning of February in 2011. What, I wondered, can I do to reveal, to “paint” the splendid icon of poets and lovers in a new way. Why, we even landed there! From the first feeble attempts, images that seemed doomed to failure, suddenly, the camera’s spiritual life took over. Each single exposure revealed a new image of startling hypnotic swirls of light and color. The moon or the camera, unleashed the images of a holographic universe. It is always beautiful no matter where light and the moon live in our astonishing holographic universe.

Creativity is harnessing universality and making it flow through your eyes.


Accept the universe as a hologram and the premises of Eastern philosophy and QED, the moon may be revealed and seen in a thousand new ways. We must shatter the classical illusions of “reality” that have dominated our vision and our images of the moon, and of our world. We are free to conjure up, as artists and poets have always done, the world and the universe of our own imaginations. All of life consists of growing into the next reality that art, science and philosophy unveil in this gigantic holographic universe. We are born to see. QED and Eastern metaphysics unveil a new world to us that flowers like a titan’s garden.

Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments. An artist recreates those aspects of reality which represent his fundamental view of man’s nature.
–AYN RAND, Art and Cognition

The Cosmic Principle

The universe floats across the vasty regions of holographic space like a gigantic jellyfish, a radiant cosmos whose virtually infinite tentacles declare the glory of creation. It is a universe that Newton bravely imagined was subject to universal laws of gravity, motion and cosmic intelligibility. It is the universe that Einstein reinvented with his theories of space/time and the towering wall that the limited speed of light imposes between man and the stars. It is the universe that Bohr and Heisenberg sketched out with quantum mechanics, the QED universe that Noble Prize physicist Richard Feynman said no one including himself understood.

It is the universe that wears the perpetual masks of origin, infinity and space/time’s indeterminacy. It is the universe of the god of the Old Testament and of the new. It is the universe of Buddha, Muhammad and Confucius, of Hindus and Taoists, of cave drawings, Pyramids and landings on the moon. It is the universe of homo erectus in the Pliocene almost two million years ago and the rise of homo sapiens a few hundred thousand years ago. It is the universe that spins our Milky Way Galaxy, and toys with the sun and the solar system, It is the universe of hundred billion degree nuclear furnaces, supernovas whose unimaginable energy outshines entire galaxies. It is the universe in which the tiny speck of a planet Earth cohabits with wild flowers, dew, rainbows, birds and humans.

The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lift human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.
–STEVEN WEINBERG, The First Three Minutes

© 2016 Harvey Lloyd


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