Key facts about the artist

Earth–Moon–Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) 1
Earth–Moon–Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon), 2007

Paterson's projects draw on scientific and technical expertise from around the globe
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge 2012-2013
Paterson spent a year in Iceland before completing her masters
Edinburgh and London


Video: Richard Ingleby : Katie Paterson - Ideas

Video: TateShots - Katie Paterson

About Katie's work

Katie Paterson’s interests extend far beyond earthly boundaries. Using both the universe and innovative cutting-edge science, she produces poetic works that explore the cosmos as well as the very fabric of life. Her complex and technically challenging projects are born from intense periods of research and draw on scientific and technical expertise from around the globe. Previous works have involved collaboration with specialists in the fields of geology, cosmology, ecology, astronomy and, more recently, genetics.

The artist’s finished works distil and communicate complex ideas about the universe and human existence, transforming scientific information into objects of both beauty and simplicity. Whether through photography, installation, sculpture or sound, the minimalist and often low-key appearance of much of Paterson’s work disguises the depth of research and logistics that underpin her art.

Paterson has a long-running interest in forms of communication, and this is particularly evident in her 2007 installation, Earth–Moon–Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon), where a version of Beethoven’s melancholic 1802 work, Moonlight Sonata, was sent to the moon and back. Translated into Morse code, the original score was then transmitted using Earth–Moon–Earth (EME) – a form of radio communication through which messages are sent from Earth, reflected from the surface of the moon, and then received back on Earth. After travelling around 480,000 miles, the returned code was transferred back into musical notation. As a result of its contact with the uneven surface of the moon, some of the original notes were lost. 

When exhibited, the reflected sonata is played through a digital grand piano, the ghostly keys seeming to move of their own accord. Hearing the moon-altered music, with its pauses and missing notes, we are reminded of the immense journey that it has undertaken. This journey also serves to highlight many of the interests which run through Paterson’s practice making visible the intangible, action and reaction, as well as seeming insignificance of humanity within the huge expanse of the universe.


Katie Paterson (born 1981 in Glasgow) was educated at Edinburgh College of Art (2000–04). She undertook an MA at the Slade School of Art, London (2005–7), then spent a year in Iceland. Key solo shows have been staged at Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh (2014), BAWAG Contemporary, Vienna (2012) and Modern Art Oxford (2008). Group exhibitions include Light Show, Hayward Gallery, London (2013) and Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009. From 2012 to 2013 Paterson was Artist-in-Residence at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge. She lives and works in Berlin and Glasgow.

More information

Andrew Benjamin, Marking Time, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2012.

Gerald A Matt and Catherine Hug, Space: About a Dream, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, 2011.

Nicolas Bourriaud, Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009, Tate Publishing, London, 2009.

Elsewhere on the web