Jonathon Keats
Since 2006
Works in San Francisco, California United States of America

BIO
Acclaimed as "a poet of ideas" by the New Yorker, Jonathon Keats is an experimental philosopher and artist based in the United States and Italy. Recently he opened a space agency for potatoes at California State University. He has also exhibited extraterrestrial abstract art at the Judah L Magnes Museum, presented the nation's first ouija voting booth at the Berkeley Art Museum, and attempted to genetically engineer God in collaboration with scientists at the University of California. His projects have been documented by PBS, NPR, and the BBC World Service, garnering favorable attention in periodicals ranging from The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle, to Nature and New Scientist, to Flash Art and ArtUS. Additionally, Keats serves as the art critic for San Francisco Magazine and as a columnist for Wired Magazine. He's the author of two novels and an American Library Association award-winning collection of stories published by Random House, as well as a book about the co-evolution of language and science, "Virtual Words", published by Oxford University Press last October. Since graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College in 1994, he has been a visiting artist at California and Montana State Universities, and a guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as the recipient of Yaddo and MacDowell fellowships. He is represented by Modernism Gallery in San Francisco. He can be contacted at jonathon_keats@yahoo.com
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EVENT

The Epigenetic Cloning Agency Opens Tonight at Modernism Gallery, San Francisco


Dates:
Thu Oct 11, 2012 17:30 - Thu Oct 11, 2012

Location:
San Francisco, California
United States of America

You Are Cordially Invited To The Grand Opening Of
THE EPIGENETIC CLONING AGENCY
an art project by Jonathon Keats

Don't let your genes decide your destiny. Epigenetic cloning lets you determine who you become. At the Epigenetic Cloning Agency, we manage your gene expression by modifying your biochemistry, so that you can be an epigenetic clone of George Washington, Queen Elizabeth I, even Jesus Christ. We also take commissions. Express yourself – epigenetically.


EVENT

San Francisco Gallery Opens First Walk-In Human Cloning Agency


Dates:
Thu Oct 11, 2012 17:30 - Thu Oct 11, 2012

Location:
San Francisco, California
United States of America

September 24, 2012 -- A San Francisco researcher has developed the first trouble-free human cloning technique, promising to make replication of famous people as routine as downloading movies. To market the new methodology, which applies the emerging field of epigenetics, experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats is launching a company that will duplicate some of the most well-known figures in history, including George Washington, Queen Elizabeth I, and Jesus Christ. The operation is so noninvasive that none of their bodies have been exhumed, nor have their descendants been notified.

"We're doing it entirely with historical data harvested from online archives," says Mr. Keats. "That and some chemicals bought over-the-counter at Walgreens."

Conventional genetic cloning is technically problematic because cloners rely on antiquated genetic concepts. But in recent years biologists have learned that the genes you inherit do not determine who you become. "What matters is which genes are expressed," explains Mr. Keats, "and gene expression depends on your environment." Epigenetics takes into account environmental factors including diet, stress, and exposure to toxins. The pioneering field of epigenetic cloning evaluates these factors and replicates them.

To validate his technique, Mr. Keats has already set up pilot studies at the Center for Epigenetic Cloning, a research laboratory he opened in New York City early this September. Metabolically analyzing living celebrities by assessing their gross biochemical intake as reported in leading gossip magazines, he has methodically exposed large populations of live cells to the same chemical formulae, systematically activating epigenetic mechanisms such as histone modification and DNA methylation.

"The easiest way to grasp the technique is to think of twins," Mr. Keats says. "As they age, identical twins diverge in appearance due to epigenetic drift. We're doing the opposite, compelling genetically distinct organisms to converge by applying intense epigenetic force." While the organisms Mr. Keats has worked with so far aren't human, they are known to be genetically and metabolically similar to Homo sapiens, and have been used in medical studies for decades. "We've been epigenetically cloning Lady Gaga and Barack Obama in Saccharomyces cerevisiae," says Mr. Keats. "It's an organism more commonly known as brewer's yeast."

Saccharomyces cerevisiae is popular in laboratories because of its rapid lifecycle. Over the course of six weeks, populations of yeast cells are expected to take on epigenetic traits of the five target celebrities. "These clones won't physically look like microscopic Gagas and Obamas," Mr. Keats admits. "But epigenetics tells us that the yeast should become the same as them at a functional level."

In anticipation of this simultaneous breakthrough in science and culture, Mr. Keats will launch his for-profit Epigenetic Cloning Agency at Modernism Gallery in San Francisco on October 11th. The agency will adapt his techniques to facilitate human-to-human epigenetic cloning for the first time ever. Through interventions such as systematic alteration of diet, concentrated exposure to select pollutants, and electrical stimulation of emotional crises, clients will have the unprecedented opportunity to become the figures they most admire.

"Potentially we can clone anybody who ever lived," claims Mr. Keats. "We can bring them back from the dead, and I don't just mean like a one-time Tupac hologram." To promote the widest possible use of epigenetic cloning, he has made all of the technology open source, and is inviting collaborations from institutions including UNESCO and the Pirate Bay. He is also designing a low-cost kit to epigenetically clone himself, though he cautions that the consequences of using it will be beyond his control: "My clones will each have a will of their own."

A special launch event for the Epigenetic Cloning Agency will be held in San Francisco on Thursday, October 11th from 5:30 to 8:00 at Modernism Gallery, 685 Market St., San Francisco, CA. More information: www.modernisminc.com. The Epigenetic Cloning Laboratory can be visited through October 27th at the AC Institute, a nonprofit arts organization located at 547 W. 27th St., 2nd Floor, in New York City. More information: www.artcurrents.org. Contact: jonathon_keats@yahoo.com


EVENT

New Art Column Launching on Forbes.com


Dates:
Fri Jul 20, 2012 13:05 - Tue Jul 31, 2012

Announcing the launch of Critic At Large, a new art column on Forbes.com, with weekly commentary on exhibitions worldwide by Jonathon Keats.

This week:
Is Damien Hirst the World's Most Misunderstood Artist?

Coming Soon:
Rineke Dijkstra, Alberto Giacometti, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and William Blake


EVENT

The First Copernican Art Exposition (Opening Tonight in San Francisco)


Dates:
Thu Oct 20, 2011 17:30 - Thu Oct 20, 2011

Location:
San Francisco, California
United States of America

You Are Cordially Invited To
THE FIRST COPERNICAN ART EXPOSITION
A New Paradigm By Jonathon Keats
Science began with the Copernican Revolution. Recognition that the world is an average planet, and that our place in the cosmos is nothing special, has allowed humanity to make generalizations about the universe based on local observations. Yet while the Copernican Revolution has enlightened scientists for centuries, art remains Ptolemaic. Masterpieces are worshipped. Only the extraordinary is deemed praiseworthy. If art is to foster universal understanding - and be more than a cultural trophy - the great works must be abandoned. Art ought to be mediocre. The art of the future must be Copernican.
1. Painting must have the average color of the universe. Let it be beige.
2. Sculpture must have the predominant composition of the universe. Let it be gaseous.
3. Music must have the gross entropy of the universe. Let it be noisy.
4. Architecture must have the fundamental geometry of the universe. Let it be flat.
5. Cuisine must have the cosmological homogeneity of the universe. Let it be bland.
6. Film must have the mathematical predictability of the universe. Let it be formulaic.
7. Dance must have the characteristic motion of the universe. Let it be random.
8. Literature must have the narrative arc of the universe. Let it be inconclusive.


EVENT

Agitating for a Copernican Revolution in the Arts


Dates:
Thu Oct 20, 2011 17:30 - Thu Oct 20, 2011

Location:
San Francisco, California
United States of America

For Immediate Release
contact: jonathon_keats@yahoo.com
 
COPERNICAN REVOLUTION IMPERILS WORLD'S TOP MUSEUMS
Picasso and Rembrandt Denounced as Ptolemaic... Contemporary Artist Vows to Realign Art With Science... San Francisco Exhibition Reveals First Painting and Sculpture to Achieve Universal Significance by Resembling the Cosmos
 
October 12, 2011 - Four hundred and sixty-eight years after Nicolaus Copernicus informed the world that Earth orbits the Sun, his revolutionary idea is gaining acceptance with artists, and threatening to shake up museum collections from New York to Tokyo and Paris. An exhibition at Modernism Gallery in San Francisco, opening on October 20th, will be the first to present art made in accordance with Copernican principles, including paintings the color of the universe. The show will be supplemented with Copernican cuisine and music.
 
The new Copernican art promises to be more profound than any painting or sculpture ever before seen, according to artist and philosopher Jonathon Keats, who has previously exhibited abstract artwork by both cypress trees and extraterrestrials. "And that's not promising much," he says, "when you consider that art on our planet has hardly evolved since the first cave paintings were made."
 
Mr. Keats acknowledges that reform takes time. "Science didn't really begin until the Copernican revolution," he says. "After millennia of egocentric navel-gazing, astronomers learned from Copernicus that there's nothing special about us. We're on an average planet in a typical galaxy, and that's to our advantage because it lets us assume that whatever we observe here, like the speed of light or the forces within atoms, will be the same everywhere." In other words, scientists can make generalizations about the entire cosmos without ever leaving home, because everything about our home is perfectly mediocre.
 
"This Copernican principle is one of the most successful principles in science," according to Princeton University astrophysicist J. Richard Gott, III. Yet Mr. Keats points out that artists have failed to take advantage of it. Art is still resolutely Ptolemaic. "In fact, artists take the geocentric worldview to an extreme even ancient astronomers like Claudius Ptolemy couldn't have fathomed," asserts Mr. Keats. "The focus of art is on self-expression. The most famous artists behave as if they personally were the center of the universe. And the work most cherished is esteemed for being atypical."
 
Museums from the Metropolitan to the Louvre are complicit in this scheme as storehouses for the most anti-Copernican of artifacts, the masterpiece. "That isn't a problem if art is just a cultural trophy," says Mr. Keats, "but if what we seek from art is universal understanding, then the great works must go. We should banish masterpieces as distracting anomalies, just as scientists routinely discard artifacts from their data sets."
 
"Copernican art is a major change in the art world," acknowledges Modernism Gallery director Danielle Beaulieu. "There's still a strong market for masterpieces, but Jonathon never was very good at making money."
 
Mr. Keats vows that nothing shown at his Modernism Gallery exhibition will be a masterpiece. On the contrary, everything will be perfectly average. For instance the color of his paintings - monochrome canvases covered in a flat coat of latex housepaint - has been calibrated by averaging the spectrum of starlight in more than 200,000 galaxies. The paintings are beige.
 
Mr. Keats will also present sculpture with the typical composition of the universe, wrought in hydrogen. The colorless gas will be free to disperse.
 
His music will have the entropy of the universe, as calculated by Australian National University cosmologists Charles Lineweaver and Chas Egan: Since the universe is approximately a quarter of the way to "heat death" or total disorderliness, Mr. Keats will apply the same ratio to Johann Sebastian Bach's Well Tempered Clavier, randomizing 25 percent of the notes.
 
Mr. Keats is applying Copernican principles to cuisine by producing a universal anti-seasoning that gives any dish the homogeneity of the cosmos. Blind taste tests have shown that his new condiment makes everything bland.
 
A manifesto released this week also includes plans for Copernican literature with the mathematical predictability of the universe, and Copernican architecture with the fundamental geometry of the universe. The manifesto is anticipated to foment a Copernican revolution in all the arts.
 
"Copernican painting is nothing special," insists Mr. Keats, "and the same is true for Copernican cuisine and music and sculpture. It's all perfectly mediocre, like the world. And like the world, Copernican art can reveal to us the nature of the universe, if only we can learn to appreciate the ordinary."
 
. . .
An opening reception for the First Copernican Art Exposition will be held at Modernism Gallery in San Francisco on Thursday, October 20, 2011 from 5:30 to 8:00 PM. For more information, or to read the First Copernican Art Manifesto, email jonathon_keats@yahoo.com or see http://www.modernisminc.com