“Alternative Moons” (Robert Pufleb and Nadine Schlieper)

The Sea of Tranquility, Mons Hadley, the Valley of Taurus-Littrow. More than 45 years after the last Apollo mission, the moon continues to fascinate us with its maria and craters, mounts and rilles.

In “Alternative Moons,” a new book by photographer Robert Pufleb and designer Nadine Schlieper, the unique typology of our moon is given homage. Image after image, the pair offers intriguing glimpses of our natural satellite. Intriguing simply because these are not photographs of the moon. They are pancakes.

“In the very beginning, the imagery of ‘Alternative Moons’ was a rather accidental discovery,” Pufleb and Schlieper told In Sight. “It was one of those rare moments, when one is looking at an everyday object [in this case, a baking pancake] but sees something completely different.”

To create the work, the consistency of the batter and temperature of the pan all played a role. “For instance, using more or less flour will later affect the surface structure,” said the team, “as well as the amount of buttermilk or oil in the pan.” Each pancake was then placed on a hemisphere and photographed from above to create the correct spherical illusion. (The authors even offer their best recipes and tips to achieve the same results at home.)

It’s more than a joke: “Alternative Moons” is an attempt to illustrate “the force field of objectivity and perception,” the authors said in an email.

“A minimal design, paired with the naming of the moons by astronomical standards amplifies the book’s impression of being a scientific discourse. That is where the book turns into a launching platform for questioning the power of images in general, their imaginary objectivity as well as their vast potential for manipulating people’s minds.”

For Pufleb and Schlieper, the book is a metaphor for how we perceive images in the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts.” The title of the book is inspired by Kellyanne Conway’s claim that President Trump, through his press secretary Sean Spicer, had offered alternative facts on Jan. 22 when he made false assertions about the crowd size at the inauguration. “Applying them to our moons, we are trying to create some kind of awareness towards interpreting and processing visual information.”


(Robert Pufleb and Nadine Schlieper)

(Robert Pufleb and Nadine Schlieper)

(Robert Pufleb and Nadine Schlieper)

(Robert Pufleb and Nadine Schlieper)

(Robert Pufleb and Nadine Schlieper)

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In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.