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

Announcing The First Bank of Antimatter


Dates:
Thu Nov 12, 2009 00:00 - Tue Oct 20, 2009

For Immediate Release
Contact: jonathon_keats@yahoo.com

CALIFORNIA ARTIST REBUILDS WORLD ECONOMY WITH ANTIMATTER

October 23, 2009 - In the wake of global economic collapse, a conceptual artist has introduced a hedge against future catastrophe by creating a mirror economy designed to skyrocket as world markets plummet. The first holistic response to the great recession, this far-reaching financial innovation was formulated by Jonathon Keats, whose previous artistic enterprises include applying string theory to real estate development.

"Economic equilibrium is upset by our unbalanced pursuit of material wealth," explains Mr. Keats. "My plan is to offset materialism with modern science, by exploiting the economic potential of antimatter, which is the physical opposite of anything made with atoms, from luxury condos to private jets."

Backed by private Swiss funding, his scheme will be implemented beginning on November 12, 2009, when the First Bank of Antimatter opens in San Francisco's Monadnock Building, the location of Modernism Gallery.

The bank will serve as a hub for antimatter transactions worldwide, eventually financing the building of antimatter infrastructure and providing the public with a full range of investment opportunities. "But our first order of business will be printing money," says Mr. Keats. "Cash is the foundation of any economy, and an anti-economy is no exception."

Issued in three convenient denominations, ranging from 10,000 positrons to 1,000,000 positrons, and initially trading at an exchange rate of $10 to $1,000, the anti-money will be backed by antimatter stored in the bank's vault. Because matter and antimatter annihilate each other on contact, antimatter positrons will be continuously produced on location by decay of the radioactive isotope potassium-40.

"We want our customers to be confident that the antimatter is available on demand, but we're advising clients to conduct transactions strictly in paper currency," says Mr. Keats, who has used his artistry to design the money in multiple colors including red, blue and green. "The paper is cotton rag, archival enough to survive economic armageddon" he promises. "It's an essential asset in any balanced portfolio. Antimatter is a natural haven for wealth when everything becomes worthless."

IMAGES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

The First Bank of Antimatter" opens at Modernism Gallery on Thursday, November12, 2009, with a public reception from 5:30 to 8:00 PM. The gallery is located at 685 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. The phone number is 415/541-0461. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 to 5:30. For more information, see www.modernisminc.com.

Jonathon Keats is a conceptual artist, fabulist, and critic residing in San Francisco. Recently he choreographed the first ballet for honeybees at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He has also exhibited extraterrestrial abstract artwork at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, unveiled a prototype ouija voting booth for the 2008 election at the Berkeley Art Museum, attempted to genetically engineer God in a petri dish in collaboration with scientists at the University of California, opened the world's first porn theater for house plants in the town of Chico, and petitioned Berkeley to pass a fundamental law of logic, a work commissioned by the city's annual Arts Festival. His projects have been documented by PBS, NPR, and the BBC World Service, garnering favorable attention in periodicals ranging from The San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post, 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 both Artweek and Wired Magazine. He's the author of two novels and an award-winning collection of stories recently published by Random House, as well as museum catalogue essays, monographs, and artist's books, and he is currently writing a book on linguistics for Oxford University Press. 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


EVENT

Literary Magazine Prints Story With 1,000-Year Reading Time


Dates:
Tue May 19, 2009 00:00 - Tue May 19, 2009

Location:
United States of America

This month Opium Magazine publishes the longest story ever told, estimated to take a minimum of twelve human generations to read. Printed directly on the magazine cover using newly-developed inking technology, the nine-word-long story was composed by American conceptual artist Jonathon Keats. "You can’t read it now," he says. "The words will take about a hundred years each to fade into view."

An artist best known for exhibiting extraterrestrial paintings and for attempting to genetically engineer God at UC Berkeley, Mr. Keats assures would-be readers and their offspring that the thousand years will be worth the wait. "The story is an antidote to instant gratification," he explains. "Who cares what's actually written?"

Many people already do, according to Opium editor-in-chief Todd Zuniga, who's been swamped with questions since the thousand-year story was announced on Opium's website. Zuniga isn’t giving out any clues. "Jonathon told me the story when we started talking," he says. "What can I tell you? I forgot it as soon as I heard it."

Opium8 will be available on newsstands nationwide on May 21, 2009. To preview the cover, see www.OpiumMagazine.com/opium8. For more information, email jonathon_keats@yahoo.com.


EVENT

Universes Unlimited - Making New Worlds Since 2008


Dates:
Thu Nov 20, 2008 00:00 - Wed Nov 12, 2008

Location:
United States of America

For Immediate Release
Contact: jonathon_keats@yahoo.com

ARTIST CREATES NEW UNIVERSE FROM URANIUM AND CHEWING GUM

Novel Technique Puts Quantum Theory to Practical Use... Automated Universe Factories Planned for Government and Industry... San Francisco Gallery to Begin Selling $20 D.I.Y. Universe Kits on November 20th... Universes to Provide Multiple Alternatives to Recession...

November 12, 2008 - Following decades of effort by engineers to build quantum supercomputers and to master quantum cryptography, today quantum physics has spawned a far more powerful technology. Applying theory developed by deceased Princeton physicist Hugh Everett III, and using little more than a piece of chewing gum, a plastic drinking straw, and a bit of uranium, San Francisco conceptual artist Jonathon Keats has constructed the first machine for fabricating all-inclusive universes.

"It was a product of my anxiety," admits Mr. Keats. "I'd recently had a couple museum shows, yet I was feeling that no matter what I made, it was hardly comparable to the creation of the cosmos. And though no one talks about it, the same issue faced Picasso, Monet, even Michelangelo. The Big Bang has artists beat."

Taking on the cosmos as a creative challenge, Mr. Keats began researching an aspect of quantum mechanics proposed by Dr. Everett in the 1950s and later refined by scientists including David Deutsch at Oxford and Wojciech Zurek at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Everett's theory addressed the question of how a subatomic particle can exist in a quantum superposition - for example being in two places at once - until someone observes it, at which point the observer finds it to be in only one place at a time. The explanation Dr. Everett gave, now widely accepted, is that the particle remains in both places when it's observed, but the observer's entire universe splits as the measurement is made, so that from that moment forward there are two separate observers living in separate universes, both identical except for the observed location of that single subatomic particle.

"When I studied Everett's theory, I immediately saw how it could be put into practice," says Mr. Keats. Liberated from his state of despair, the artist could deliberately cleave the universe whenever he desired, effectively creating new universes by subdividing our cosmos. "In creative terms, that seemed a lot more significant than going into a studio and making another oil painting," he observes. "Not that I know how to paint."

Mr. Keats decided that, rather than producing only one universe, he might as well fabricate them in quantity by building a quantum universe generator. His machine needed a steady supply of subatomic particles and a means of methodically observing them. "I figured the easiest approach would be to measure radioactive decay," he says. "So I assembled a prototype out of uranium-doped glass and a sliver of scintillating crystal." The components cost him a couple dollars on eBay. The drinking straw and chewing gum, which he found in his kitchen cupboard, held the pieces together.

After building several more efficient prototypes, and making untold trillions of universes, Mr. Keats started to feel guilty. "Creating all those universes seemed a little selfish," he confides. "And the last thing I wanted was a god complex." He decided that other people ought to have the opportunity to generate new worlds. "What could be a more fulfilling hobby," he asks, "especially in this bleak economy?"

Accordingly, Mr. Keats designed a $20 do-it-yourself universe kit, with simple instructions as well as manila envelopes containing the uranium glass and scintillating crystal. "A six-year-old could assemble it in under ten minutes," he promises, noting that purchasers need to supply their own chewing gum and drinking straw, as well as a mid-size mason jar. Manufactured by Mr. Keats' new company, Universes Unlimited, the kits will be packaged in small metal tins, and sold exclusively through Modernism Gallery in San Francisco. A grand opening has been scheduled for Thursday, November 20th from 5:30 to 8:00 PM.

At the opening, Mr. Keats will also unveil the next phase of Universes Unlimited, revealing plans to fabricate universes at an industrial scale. His first automated universe factory has been designed for the U.S. government's proposed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository in the Nevada desert. "The radioactivity of the dump makes it ideal for making new worlds," Mr. Keats says. His plans, which call for sinking two-mile-long scintillating crystal stacks into Yucca Mountain, has yet to be officially reviewed by the Department of Energy. However, the artist/entrepreneur is hopeful: "Now that we've pretty well destroyed this world, generating a googolplex of alternate universes with a googolplex of possible outcomes may be our only chance at redemption."

IMAGES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
* * *
Universes Unlimited" opens at Modernism Gallery on Thursday, November 20, 2008, with a public reception from 5:30 to 8:00 PM. The gallery is located at 685 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. The phone number is 415/541-0461. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 to 5:30. For more information, see www.modernisminc.com.
* * *
Jonathon Keats is a conceptual artist, fabulist, and critic residing in San Francisco. Recently he opened a temple for the worship of science with a grant from the University of California, and choreographed a ballet for honeybees as part of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts biennial. He has also exhibited extraterrestrial abstract artwork at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, unveiled a prototype ouija voting booth for the 2008 election at the Berkeley Art Museum, attempted to genetically engineer God in a petri dish in collaboration with scientists at UC and the Smithsonian, opened the world's first porn theater for house plants in the town of Chico, and petitioned Berkeley to pass a fundamental law of logic, a work commissioned by the city's annual Arts Festival. His projects have been documented by PBS and the BBC World Service, garnering favorable attention in periodicals ranging from The San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post, to Nature and New Scientist, to Flash Art and ArtUS, as well as Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Additionally, Keats serves as the art critic for San Francisco Magazine, as a correspondent for Art & Antiques, and as a columnist for both Artweek and Wired Magazine. He is the author of two novels, a dictionary, and a collection of fables forthcoming from Random House, as well as numerous museum catalogue essays, monographs, and artist's books. Since graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College in 1994, he has been a visiting artist at California State University, Chico, 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


EVENT

Artist Commissioned to Build First Temple for Worship of Science


Dates:
Mon Sep 15, 2008 00:00 - Mon Sep 15, 2008

Location:
United States of America

Artist Commissioned to Build First Temple for Worship of Science

New "Atheon" Based on Latest Cosmology from NASA... Project Conceived by Artist Jonathon Keats to Debut at Berkeley's Judah L. Magnes Museum With Co-Sponsorship from the University of California… Website Converts PCs into Scientific Shrines...

September 15, 2008 - Four millennia after Abraham fathered Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and 150,000 years after hominids introduced burial rituals to the Mediterranean, religion has finally been rendered wholly compatible with science. Beginning on September 27, 2008, a two-story downtown Berkeley building dubbed "the Atheon" will provide a spiritual home for rational people in California, and guidance to acolytes worldwide.

Establishment of an Atheon has been a high priority in the scientific community for the past several years, rivaling even enthusiasm for the new Large Hadron Collider. "When you listen to people like Nobel-laureate cosmologist Steven Weinberg, or Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, you hear a lot of talk about how god-based religion is out-of-date," says conceptual artist Jonathon Keats. "The leading minds believe that science can and should provide a spiritually satisfying replacement. But until recently no one bothered to consider what form that alternative might take."

Mr. Keats recognized that this was a role for an artist. "Renaissance masters such as Michelangelo did so much to make Christianity palatable to the masses," he observes. While Mr. Keats himself can neither paint nor sculpt, leading institutions including the Berkeley Art Museum and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts have affirmed his ability to think artistically, featuring his conceptual work in multiple recent exhibitions. Moreover, he's the only living artist to take an interest in building a temple to science. "I'm hardly the best person for the job," he admits, "but if I didn’t take it on, nobody would."

Late last year, Mr. Keats approached the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley with the idea of temporarily installing a prototype Atheon in their newly-acquired downtown building, which was slated for major overhaul. "The building has fourteen-foot-high cathedral-style windows," says chief curator Alla Efimova, "and frankly nothing was planned there during restoration when Jonathon came along." With a grant from UC Berkeley's Chancellor's Community Partnership Fund - alleged to be considerably less than the $10 billion spent on the Large Hadron Collider - construction of the Atheon began.

This week, Mr. Keats goes public with his plans. "The essence of religion is stained glass and song," he says. In the case of the Atheon, the stained glass is patterned to show the cosmic microwave background radiation - capturing the universe in the first several hundred thousand years of creation - using NASA's new WMAP satellite data. "The cosmic microwave background is the sky's natural stained glass, our origin story imprinted on the cosmos," explains Mr. Keats. "And now it's visible to us for the first time, glowing through the windows of the Atheon."

The song composed for the Atheon is equally scientific, a canon for three cosmic voices titled "Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?" The canon is comprised of sounds pulsating through several hypothetical universes as well as our own living cosmos, musically arranged by Mr. Keats using audio files produced by University of Virginia astronomer Mark Whittle. According to Mr. Keats, "these universes don't provide any answers. If people are to find spirituality in science, it's likely to be by immersing themselves in questions."

For the foreseeable future, disciples will have to do so on the sidewalk. Due to construction work inside the new Magnes Museum building, the Atheon will be visible only from the exterior, at the corner of Harold Way and Kittredge Street. The windows will be illuminated nightly until February 1, 2009, and the canon will be audible by cellphone, as well as on a special website devoted to the Atheon: www.magnes.org/atheon. The Atheon website, which has just gone live, also glows with the cosmic microwave background radiation, so that people everywhere can turn off their lights and set up a miniature shrine to science on their home computer.

"Eventually there will be an Atheon in every town," anticipates Mr. Keats, who's organizing a synod at UC Berkeley in December to consider this eventuality. "There will be many different architectures and diverse liturgies. Science will make a fine religion," he predicts. "What remains to be determined is whether this religion will be good science."

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jonathon Keats is a conceptual artist, fabulist, and critic residing in San Francisco. Recently he choreographed the first ballet for honeybees at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in conjunction with Bay Area Now 5. He has also exhibited extraterrestrial abstract artwork at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, unveiled a prototype ouija voting booth for the 2008 election at the Berkeley Art Museum, attempted to genetically engineer God in a petri dish in collaboration with scientists at the University of California, opened the world's first porn theater for house plants in the town of Chico, and petitioned Berkeley to pass a fundamental law of logic, a work commissioned by the city's annual Arts Festival. His projects have been documented by PBS and the BBC World Service, garnering favorable attention in periodicals ranging from The San Francisco Chronicle and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 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 both Artweek and Wired Magazine. He is the author of two novels and a collection of fables forthcoming from Random House, as well as museum catalogue essays, monographs, and artist's books. Since graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College in 1994, he has been a visiting artist at California State University, Chico, 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

ABOUT THE MAGNES
Berkeley's Judah L. Magnes Museum houses the third largest collection of Judaica in the United States. Through innovative educational programs, exhibitions, and publications the Magnes engages with significant issues in contemporary life, promotes public dialogue and scholarship, and encourages understanding of Jewish history for present and future generations. The Magnes also houses the Western Jewish History Center and the Blumenthal Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The Magnes is accredited by the American Association of Museums. During renovations, the Magnes will host a series of installations in the second floor windows of the new building at 2222 Harold Way. For more information, see www.magnes.org.


EVENT

The Honeybee Ballet


Dates:
Sat Jul 19, 2008 00:00 - Tue Jul 15, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO HONEYBEES TO DANCE IN CITYWIDE BALLET

Conceptual Artist Jonathon Keats to Choreograph First Performance Season - Sponsored by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts - Debuting July 19, 2008

Skilled at dancing eons before humans could walk, honeybees are admired by entomologists for the complex physical language with which they communicate the location of flowers to one another. Yet the species has been ignored by choreographers from Nijinsky to Balanchine, who have preferred to work with their own kind.

In an effort to bridge the divide between Homo sapiens and Apis mellifera in this time of cataclysmic colony collapse, San Francisco conceptual artist Jonathon Keats will choreograph the first ballet specifically for honeybees as part of Bay Area Now, the triennial organized by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Working with San Francisco residents - and in consultation with Smithsonian Institution zoologist Mark Moffett - Mr. Keats will place hundreds of flowering cosmos plants in neighborhoods around San Francisco, including Bernal Heights and Hunters Point, carefully arranged to inspire an elaborate two-act ballet unfolding between July and November.

"Deep inside their hives, the bees will dance according to the locations of flowers they've found," Mr. Keats explains. "The ballet won't be predictable, though, because the bees will also encounter flowers that we haven't planted. The choreography isn't dictated, simply suggested."

Moreover, while free choreographic maps will be distributed at Yerba Buena, performances inside the hives will not be open to human audiences. "The bees will dance for themselves, not for us," says Mr. Keats. And what will we experience? "The flowers, and the dances they evoke in our minds."

* * *

Jonathon Keats is a conceptual artist, fabulist, and critic. Recently he exhibited extraterrestrial abstract artwork at the Judah L. Magnes Museum. He has also attempted to genetically engineer God in a petri dish, in collaboration with scientists at the University of California, opened the world's first porn theater for house plants in the town of Chico, and petitioned Berkeley to pass a fundamental law of logic, a work commissioned by the city's annual Arts Festival. He has been awarded Yaddo and MacDowell fellowships, and his projects have been documented by KQED-TV and the BBC World Service, as well as periodicals ranging from Flash Art to New Scientist. He is represented by Modernism Gallery in San Francisco. For more information, please contact Mr. Keats at jonathon_keats@yahoo.com.