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OPPORTUNITY

Portable Black Hole -Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art One-


Deadline:
Fri Aug 03, 2012 15:50

Location:
Edinburgh, EH4 3DR, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

One of the highlights of this years Annuale 2012 is Tom Estes’ performance/ installation- Portable Black Hole at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art One.

Remember the Road Runner Show? Simple in its premise, the Road Runner, a flightless cartoon bird, is chased down the highways of the south western United States by a hungry cartoon coyote, named Wile E. Coyote (a pun on "wily coyote"). Despite numerous clever attempts, and the use of a variety of ludicrous devices from that fictitious mail-order company ACME, Wile E. Coyote never catches or kills the Road Runner. But wouldn't it still be cool if there really was an ACME company? Inspired by The Road Runner Show Artist Tom Estes enters the realm of Loonytune physics to create a successful science and pop-media crossover, by making a ‘Portable Black Hole’ from the darkest material ever made. The carpet of carbon nano- tubes, on show at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, reflects 0.045 percent light, making it 100 times darker than a black-painted Corvette according to researchers from Rice University, The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and NASA.

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Estes work Portable Black Hole is part installation and part performance and functions according to shifting locations and contexts. The aim is to move the ‘Portable Black Hole’ around so that it is interspersed between the existing sculptures and the paintings of a museum collection. First staged at the Solomon R Guggenheim in New York, 'Portable Black Hole is intended as a visual metaphor for 'the disappeared'. The work is intended as a reminder of the multiple, idiosyncratic pockets of forgotten histories; of absence and the unseen and unrepresented; multiple conflicting realities that exist side by side with official or recorded ‘histories’. On this occasion, Portable Black Hole is sited at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art One, alongside sculptural works from the collection, and important works on loan a major new exhibition 'The Sculpture Show'. Featured artists include Rodin, Degas, Hepworth, Moore, Giacometti, Duchamp, Hirst, Lucas and others, along with photographic and film documentation and with Ron Mueck's enormous A Girl which returns to the Gallery from its world tour.

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Artist Tom Estes' innovative web adventures and conversations are situated within current debates around the ubiquity of new technologies and of the shared delusions of human experience. As part of the work members of the audience and visitors to the museum are asked to take pictures of the performance on their own cameras or on a communal camera that is passed around. The primary source of Estes' recorded images are generated from this kind of public intervention, captured haphazardly on clandestine cameras. The action takes place between moments in the guarding of cultural artifacts and recorded on cameras that are smuggled into instiutional spaces where photography is often prohibited. In this way the audience becomes not only involved with the documentation and the performance but part of a subversive act. The pictures of the performance and the audience participation are published on social networking sites for another, wider online audience to view.

http://www.list.co.uk/event/253543-tom-estes-portable-black-hole/

http://www.theskinny.co.uk/film/previews/302023-annuale_2012_edinburgh_824_jun

http://www.list.co.uk/event/238442-the-sculpture-show/ You can read more about Portable Black Hole by going to: http://rhizome.org/announce/events/58246/view/

www.TomEstesartist.com


OPPORTUNITY

Tom Estes: Art Takes Times Square


Deadline:
Wed Jul 18, 2012 16:45

ART TAKES TIMES SQUARE:
At twilight on Monday the 18th of June, something new lit up The Times Square billboards. 'Watchers' a work by artist Tom Estes, displayed at 23 stories high, replaced advertising.


Since the dawn of civilization, humans have wondered what transcendent intelligence could have created the universe. For some, religion is merely a superstition or an irrational belief that future events can be influenced or foretold by specific, unrelated behaviors or occurrences. The earliest religions were created as a way to deal with ignorance and fear of the unknown. Religious belief can therefore, be seen as one way of attempting to regain control over events in one's life. But whether we believe in a god or not, whether we identify ourselves as theists, atheists or even anti-theists, our world is profoundly influenced by concepts of god and the divine. The human pursuit to bring oneself in harmony with collective worship as a means to find protection, solace and happiness also maintains social relationships and relationships of power as old as humanity itself.

image

For artist Tom Estes, fantasy and illusion are not contradictions of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives www.TomEstesartist.com Estes has strived, not to break down these introverted, often self-imposed boundaries, but to look at how dataflow impacts on the significance and symbolism of real-world human senses. His work 'Watchers' has introduced a new kind of artwork that functions more as art proposal for a partially realized exhibition; a document of visual and spatial modes of presentation that theorizes a different approach. But in doing so Estes has begun to generate unexpected questions about how art might be able to inscribe itself on the surface of reality- not to represent itself on the surface of reality –not to represent reality, nor to duplicate it, but to replace it.

In his practice Estes has focused on conditions that shape both production and reception of art. At the core of Estes' work is an attention to the paradox of using intervention and history as meta-narrative devices. In 'Watchers' Estes has appropriated the Sci-fi image of ancient and highly advanced alien civilizations- and literally projected them directly onto a Bible open at 'Genesis'. By merging these two existing narratives and their related ideological fictions (alien super-beings alongside our own cultural beliefs in an all-powerful creator) the artist transforms both narratives, giving rise to a host of new associations.

image

The work recalls some of the most outlandish and wild claims of conspiracy theory: that alien astronauts genetically engineered us from apes and placed us back on earth as a new species. However, by projecting directly onto the page Estes over-rides the Biblical text. This act of usurpation alludes to an even more unnerving comparison which emphasizes sex and the reproductive system. The authors of contemporary ‘Alien abduction’ stories often describe being subjected to complex physical and psychological procedures. These involve claims of humans being subjected to forced medical examination, and are described subjectively as nightmarish but real memories of being taken secretly and/or against one’s will by apparently non-human entities.

By merging the common and the absurd, Estes alters not only our perception of Christianity, but also highlights our obsession with tabloid sensation and web fuelled social activity. So putting aside the question of whether abduction reports are literally and objectively “real”, their popularity and their intriguing appeal are easily understood. Conspiracy Theory is compelling and fascinating- but it is also as old as the world itself. Hitler was a master at weaving conspiracy tales and brought the Nazi party to power by blaming the Communist for the Reichstag Fire. Nero concocted one to shift the blame to Christians for the burning of Rome. However, Conspiracy Theory is more than just the belief in an occasional conspiracy. Simply put, it is a whole belief system that asserts that world events are being controlled in secret by a group of ultra-powerful puppeteers behind the scenes. So conspiracy theories that, for example, involve alien abductions project its fictions onto real-life people, families, groups, and organizations that purport it to be actually true. In the post-modern age, tales of abduction are intrinsically absorbing and it is hard to imagine a more vivid description of human powerlessness in the form of a shared delusion- other than ones found in religion. And like religion, the science fiction genre itself has long served as a useful vehicle for "safely" discussing controversial topical issues and often providing thoughtful social commentary on potential unforeseen future issues. Presentation of contemporary issues that are difficult or disturbing for an audience can be made more acceptable when they are explored in a future setting or on a different, earth-like world. The altered context can allow for deeper examination and reflection of the ideas presented, with the perspective of a viewer watching remote events.

image

An allegorical interpretation of Genesis is a reading of the biblical Book of Genesis that treats elements of the narrative as symbols or types. But even those who favor an allegorical interpretation of the story claim that its intent is to describe humankind's relationship to creation and the creator.The polar opposite would be 'Biblical Literalism': the belief that the Bible, or at least large portions of it, should be read literally, not allegorically. To some extent, literalism is a matter of degree, since not even self-described literalists claim to believe that everything in the Bible is literal. But by literally projecting an image on to the top of the Biblical creation myth of ‘Genesis’ Estes transforms these two narratives and their related ideological fictions. But Estes not only supplants the Christian text, but calls into question the process by which its authenticity as a literal text is propagated. And while religion offers a spiritual answer, it offers very little in the way of tangible proof. However, much of the 'fiction' in science fiction is based on real-life science theory or scientific fact.

But of course criticism of religion is nothing new. The culture of belief itself is contested by numerous scientists, historians, psychologists and ethnologists – those who reject any form of religion, irrationalism, superstition or pseudo-science. In past decades many lobbied instead for a world that is dominated by rationality and intellect in lieu of irrationality and religious hatred. Religion is according to Karl Marx, "the opium of the people" and according to Friedrich Nietzsche, one can reach a higher level of humanness through completely stripping away western Christianity with a "transvaluation of all values". Likewise, for many scientists our Galaxy should be full of advanced alien civilizations, but when they’ve looked the Galaxy appears to be quiet and lonely. Where are all the alien civilizations they ask? Many people would of course argue with this, pointing out that aliens have visited us; that they created the pyramids, Atlantis and humankind itself. By paying homage to the imagined and fictional, Estes has supplanted one grand narrative or ideological fiction for another.

image

But Estes takes the concept behind the work one step further through the works means of display and the context. The work 'Watchers' displayed at 23 stories high on The Times Square billboards has replaced advertising. By intentionally leaving the project unrealised, Estes’ closed circuit of illusion mimics and merges with the mass media desire for immediate novelty. In the work, Estes anticipates the online reduction of his 'installation' to a single image. By creating an art-world-as-fiction, the work raises the question of whether this project should be understood as an online representation – using fictional space to comment on the ‘real’ world - or as intervention- actually reordering the real world. Estes work recalls the little known ‘Conquest of Ubiquity’, by Paul Valery which makes prognostications that works of art are designed with their reproducibility in mind. It is therefore neither uniqueness, nor specificity, but the potential for ‘ubiquity’ that yields the value of work made for new media. As we said earlier for Estes, fantasy and illusion are not contradictions of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives. But Estes' work has also begun to generate unexpected questions about how art might be able to inscribe itself on the surface of reality; not to represent itself on the surface of reality, not to represent reality, nor to duplicate it- but to replace it. Just as the movement of commodities presupposes a demand, a work of art must conform to an established, shared protocol. But if we are to judge the latest shift, then it could be said that the language of representation has even superseded the role of the exhibition space in the presentation as art.

In his practice, Estes approaches the theme of 'reality' by engaging with the variety and fidelity of sensory information found on the internet. Estes strives not to break down this introverted, often self-imposed hall of mirrors; instead his theatrical interpretation looks at how dataflow from the virtual realm impacts on the significance and symbolism of real-world human senses. Many artists have now joined Estes and others in feeling that a capacity for lateral, horizontal movement has had a flattening effect upon not only their production, but now also the physical world. This realization makes it all the more interesting to begin to perceive the shape of something else on the horizon—something that will follow the convergence of new forms of popular expression that do not deny, but include the economic realities that have allowed advances in symbolic exchange, but that can also be taken further.

For more information go to:

www.TomEstesartist.com

image

Artists Wanted
Artist Wanted is not a charity but a business, one that hopes to make a profit identifying artistic talent and connecting it to an audience. Investors are pouring millions into it and similar start-ups and social networks like Behance.net and EveryArt.com, which cater to the growing cadre of people who consider themselves creative and think there’s a market for their work outside the network of galleries and dealers who dominate the commerce in art and design. Users and founders of these sites talk not only about making money but also about democratizing culture. As these platforms proliferate, they also raise questions about the nature of art and creativity, the distinction between professionals and hobbyists and what it means to call yourself an artist when anyone with a cellphone can be a photographer, anyone with the right apps can be a designer, anyone with a Facebook page can amass a following, and anyone at all can dream up a concept and find a place to pitch it. “The value of the creative industry, the value of creative talent, has become more appreciated over the past few years,” said Mukti Khaire, an associate professor at Harvard Business School. “The fact that the Web creates opportunities for discovery and showing that nothing else could on that scale — I think it does change who gets to be an artist,” added Ms. Khaire, who studies the creative fields. “It may not change the definition, but it widens the funnel.” William Etundi Jr., a founder and chief executive of Artists Wanted, is banking on that mass tech-enabled populace. “As technology has made it easier for people to create things, more people become creators,” he said, offering a sort of company motto. He started the site four years ago, with Jason Goodman, a founder of Third Ward, an art and design collective in Brooklyn, where Mr. Etundi, 33, planned events. They hosted artist calls and competitions, partnering with other businesses. As 60,000 users registered and remained engaged, Mr. Etundi sensed a larger opportunity. In February they raised $1.5 million from investors including OATV, which backed bit.ly and Foursquare, and Founder Collective, which invested in Art.sy and Vimeo. The ethos, Mr. Etundi said, “is to inspire creative people to make works they wouldn’t otherwise create, to give them an audience, to give them connection, to give them deadlines within competitions.” In its venture-financed expansion, Artists Wanted, which now has a staff of 14, plans to run four competitions a year, letting the site’s community pick the best contenders in art, photography, fashion and more but retaining the right to name the winner (as it did for Times Square). Its business plan is a mix of free and paid services, allowing users to post their work free but charging for deeper usage — $25 to get your portfolio on the home page during a contest, say, or perks like after-party tickets. Its visitors quintupled from 41,000 in January to 208,000 in April, according to Nielsen, and it already has revenue — $1.3 million last year, although it’s not yet profitable, Mr. Etundi said. Artists Wanted also has deep cultural connections. For its event on Monday unveiling the billboards in Times Square, Mr. Etundi enlisted Questlove, the drummer from the Roots, to host, from the pedestrian plaza on 43rd Street and to D.J. the after-party nearby. Through Chashama, the arts nonprofit founded by Anita Durst — a scion of the Durst Organization, the developer that controls some Times Square real estate — he got access to three major digital billboards (on the Nasdaq, Thomson Reuters and Port Authority buildings). Through the Times Square Alliance, which also had ties to Ms. Durst, the Times Square Advertising Coalition is in talks to donate space on a dozen more, for a month. Also thanks to Ms. Durst and the real estate firm Rockrose, Mr. Etundi has a 4,800-square-foot office space in Long Island City, Queens — complete with a gallery for his site’s artists — rent free for a year, with subsidized rates to follow. “I believe Will — his philosophies — they help build the arts community in New York,” said Ms. Durst, who met him a decade ago, when she frequented his loft parties. “He really cares in a very heartfelt way.”



EVENT

Tom Estes: Art Takes Times Square


Dates:
Wed Jul 25, 2012 17:45 - Mon Dec 31, 2012

At twilight on Monday the 18th of June 2012 something new lit up The Times Square billboards. The work 'Watchers' by Tom Estes, displayed at 23 stories high, replaced advertising as part of ART TAKES TIMES SQUARE.

Since the dawn of civilization, humans have wondered what transcendent intelligence could have created the universe. For some, religion is merely a superstition or an irrational belief that future events can be influenced or foretold by specific, unrelated behaviors or occurrences. The earliest religions were created as a way to deal with ignorance and fear of the unknown. Religious belief can therefore, be seen as one way of attempting to regain control over events in one's life. But whether we believe in a god or not, whether we identify ourselves as theists, atheists or even anti-theists, our world is profoundly influenced by concepts of god and the divine. The human pursuit to bring oneself in harmony with collective worship as a means to find protection, solace and happiness also maintains social relationships and relationships of power as old as humanity itself.

For artist Tom Estes, fantasy and illusion are not contradictions of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives www.TomEstesartist.com Estes has strived, not to break down these introverted, often self-imposed boundaries, but to look at how dataflow impacts on the significance and symbolism of real-world human senses. His work 'Watchers' has introduced a new kind of artwork that functions more as art proposal for a partially realized exhibition; a document of visual and spatial modes of presentation that theorizes a different approach. But in doing so Estes has begun to generate unexpected questions about how art might be able to inscribe itself on the surface of reality- not to represent itself on the surface of reality –not to represent reality, nor to duplicate it, but to replace it.

In his practice Estes has focused on conditions that shape both production and reception of art. At the core of Estes' work is an attention to the paradox of using intervention and history as meta-narrative devices. In 'Watchers' Estes has appropriated the Sci-fi image of ancient and highly advanced alien civilizations- and literally projected them directly onto a Bible open at 'Genesis'. By merging these two existing narratives and their related ideological fictions (alien super-beings alongside our own cultural beliefs in an all-powerful creator) the artist transforms both narratives, giving rise to a host of new associations.

image

The work recalls some of the most outlandish and wild claims of conspiracy theory: that alien astronauts genetically engineered us from apes and placed us back on earth as a new species. However, by projecting directly onto the page Estes over-rides the Biblical text. This act of usurpation alludes to an even more unnerving comparison which emphasizes sex and the reproductive system. The authors of contemporary ‘Alien abduction’ stories often describe being subjected to complex physical and psychological procedures. These involve claims of humans being subjected to forced medical examination, and are described subjectively as nightmarish but real memories of being taken secretly and/or against one’s will by apparently non-human entities.

By merging the common and the absurd, Estes alters not only our perception of Christianity, but also highlights our obsession with tabloid sensation and web fuelled social activity. So putting aside the question of whether abduction reports are literally and objectively “real”, their popularity and their intriguing appeal are easily understood. Conspiracy Theory is compelling and fascinating- but it is also as old as the world itself. Hitler was a master at weaving conspiracy tales and brought the Nazi party to power by blaming the Communist for the Reichstag Fire. Nero concocted one to shift the blame to Christians for the burning of Rome. However, Conspiracy Theory is more than just the belief in an occasional conspiracy. Simply put, it is a whole belief system that asserts that world events are being controlled in secret by a group of ultra-powerful puppeteers behind the scenes. So conspiracy theories that, for example, involve alien abductions project its fictions onto real-life people, families, groups, and organizations that purport it to be actually true. In the post-modern age, tales of abduction are intrinsically absorbing and it is hard to imagine a more vivid description of human powerlessness in the form of a shared delusion- other than ones found in religion. And like religion, the science fiction genre itself has long served as a useful vehicle for "safely" discussing controversial topical issues and often providing thoughtful social commentary on potential unforeseen future issues. Presentation of contemporary issues that are difficult or disturbing for an audience can be made more acceptable when they are explored in a future setting or on a different, earth-like world. The altered context can allow for deeper examination and reflection of the ideas presented, with the perspective of a viewer watching remote events.

image

An allegorical interpretation of Genesis is a reading of the biblical Book of Genesis that treats elements of the narrative as symbols or types. But even those who favor an allegorical interpretation of the story claim that its intent is to describe humankind's relationship to creation and the creator.The polar opposite would be 'Biblical Literalism': the belief that the Bible, or at least large portions of it, should be read literally, not allegorically. To some extent, literalism is a matter of degree, since not even self-described literalists claim to believe that everything in the Bible is literal. But by literally projecting an image on to the top of the Biblical creation myth of ‘Genesis’ Estes transforms these two narratives and their related ideological fictions. But Estes not only supplants the Christian text, but calls into question the process by which its authenticity as a literal text is propagated. And while religion offers a spiritual answer, it offers very little in the way of tangible proof. However, much of the 'fiction' in science fiction is based on real-life science theory or scientific fact.

But of course criticism of religion is nothing new. The culture of belief itself is contested by numerous scientists, historians, psychologists and ethnologists – those who reject any form of religion, irrationalism, superstition or pseudo-science. In past decades many lobbied instead for a world that is dominated by rationality and intellect in lieu of irrationality and religious hatred. Religion is according to Karl Marx, "the opium of the people" and according to Friedrich Nietzsche, one can reach a higher level of humanness through completely stripping away western Christianity with a "transvaluation of all values". Likewise, for many scientists our Galaxy should be full of advanced alien civilizations, but when they’ve looked the Galaxy appears to be quiet and lonely. Where are all the alien civilizations they ask? Many people would of course argue with this, pointing out that aliens have visited us; that they created the pyramids, Atlantis and humankind itself. By paying homage to the imagined and fictional, Estes has supplanted one grand narrative or ideological fiction for another.

image

But Estes takes the concept behind the work one step further through the works means of display and the context. The work 'Watchers' displayed at 23 stories high on The Times Square billboards has replaced advertising. By intentionally leaving the project unrealised, Estes’ closed circuit of illusion mimics and merges with the mass media desire for immediate novelty. In the work, Estes anticipates the online reduction of his 'installation' to a single image. By creating an art-world-as-fiction, the work raises the question of whether this project should be understood as an online representation – using fictional space to comment on the ‘real’ world - or as intervention- actually reordering the real world. Estes work recalls the little known ‘Conquest of Ubiquity’, by Paul Valery which makes prognostications that works of art are designed with their reproducibility in mind. It is therefore neither uniqueness, nor specificity, but the potential for ‘ubiquity’ that yields the value of work made for new media. As we said earlier for Estes, fantasy and illusion are not contradictions of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives. But Estes' work has also begun to generate unexpected questions about how art might be able to inscribe itself on the surface of reality; not to represent itself on the surface of reality, not to represent reality, nor to duplicate it- but to replace it. Just as the movement of commodities presupposes a demand, a work of art must conform to an established, shared protocol. But if we are to judge the latest shift, then it could be said that the language of representation has even superseded the role of the exhibition space in the presentation as art.

In his practice, Estes approaches the theme of 'reality' by engaging with the variety and fidelity of sensory information found on the internet. Estes strives not to break down this introverted, often self-imposed hall of mirrors; instead his theatrical interpretation looks at how dataflow from the virtual realm impacts on the significance and symbolism of real-world human senses. Many artists have now joined Estes and others in feeling that a capacity for lateral, horizontal movement has had a flattening effect upon not only their production, but now also the physical world. This realization makes it all the more interesting to begin to perceive the shape of something else on the horizon—something that will follow the convergence of new forms of popular expression that do not deny, but include the economic realities that have allowed advances in symbolic exchange, but that can also be taken further.

www.TomEstesartist.com

image


EVENT

Portable Black Hole by Tom Estes at The Guggenheim


Dates:
Sun Apr 01, 2012 13:40 - Sun Apr 01, 2012

Location:
New York,, United States of America

Artist Tom Estes has entered the cartoon realm of Loonytunes, creating a Roadrunner inspired 'portable hole' from the darkest material ever made. The work, staged at the Solomon R Guggenheim in New York is interspersed between John Chamberlain's monochromatic welded iron-rod sculptures and the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky- as well as being a tribute to one ofthe the museums unsung founders.

A new work by artist Tom Estes called ‘Portable Black Hole’ is made from a carpet of carbon nano- tubes reflects 0.045 percent light, making it 100 times darker than previous discoveries. The nanotech-based material now developed by a team of 10 technologists at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is a thin coating of multi-walled carbon nanotubes — tiny hollow tubes made of pure carbon about 10,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair.

‘Portable Black Hole‘ is an artwork with a successful science and pop-media crossover- and with a fascinating technology. The discovery will allow an increase in the absorption efficiency of light as well as the overall radiation-to-electricity efficiency of solar energy conservation. The material could help scientists gather hard-to-obtain scientific measurements or observe unseen astronomical objects. It could also one day be used to deliver medicine in humans, build bridges, and conduct electricity inside of semiconductors.

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Though ‘Portable Black Hole’ was dreamed up after lengthy research into scientific discoveries, it is the works connection with its own context of display that truly intrigues. So while the work was inspired by the Roadrunner cartoon and one of the ludicrous devices from that fictitious mail-order company, The Acme Corporation, it was also inspired by Hilla Rabey, the first Director of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Hilla Rabey was a strong willed and confident woman and part of a coterie of art directors who brought European modern art in the United States. But even more importantly, she was the person who originated the Guggenheim Museum.

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Rabey's vision for the direction (as well as the name) for the new museum was strictly one of Non-Objective art. Non-Objective art for Rebay was not only a new aesthetic but held a spiritual dimension. She made it quite clear that there was a difference between Abstract Art and Non-Objective art. According to her belief, Abstract Art was an abstraction of some object from life: while Non-Objective painting was completely pure, devoid of any connection or association with what is seen in the world. For her "temple" of art, Rebay envisioned a circular building with no stairs for the display of the paintings that she and Solomon Guggenheim had spent so many years collecting and were so profoundly dedicated to.

Yet despite her achievements, persistence and single-mindedness in forming a unique museum few people today are familiar with the name of Hilla Rebay. After the death of Solomon Guggenheim the term 'Non-Objective art' was largely written out of the history of the museum and was instead dedicated in his honour. And the name of Hilla Rebay was eliminated from any literature catalogs, lectures or history of the museum.

image

However, rather than create some heavy-handed tribute, artist Tom Estes has created a statement on the the treatment of Hilla Rebay that is invoked with a minimalism and a modesty that is as comic as it is cosmic:

Its almost as if she fell into a black hole.


Scientists believe a Black Hole is a region of space-time from which nothing, not even light, can escape. It is called "black" because it absorbs all light, reflecting nothing. And it is this concept of the Black Hole that closely resembles the scientific properties of Estes' art object.

Estes' use of this new real-life scientific material is a playful response to a real life situation, conceived with a casually humorous lightness of touch. For Estes, fantasy and illusion are not contradictions of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives. And indeed, what better place for this cartoon-esque representation of an alternative reality than within The Guggenheim with its domed skylight and ramp? After all, this inverted Ziggurat that spirals down like a vortex was first dreamed up by Hilla Rebay herself.

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EVENT

Watchers by Tom Estes at the 2012 Windsor Whitney Biennial


Dates:
Thu Mar 01, 2012 19:00 - Sun May 27, 2012

Location:
New York, New York
United States of America

Watchers: Secrets of the Krell by Tom Estes



On some days it is more apparent than others that the ground is shifting beneath our feet. There's no warning. None at all. One minute you're happily walking down the street. The next it feels like the end of the world. Of course the parameters of our world are constantly moving—in incredibly slow motion—it’s just that we don't even notice most of the time. But this realization can also make it all the more interesting to begin to perceive the shape of something else on the horizon. Held every two years, the aim of the prestigious 2012 Whitney Biennial is to present a view of significant contemporary art. The Windsor-Whitney Online Biennial is a collateral event that offers a fresh and cutting-edge alternative to the more established institutional selections. But if we are to judge the value of this latest groundswell, it should be by one of the short listed artists, whose work seems to go beyond this "diverse array of collective actions" and may just may be one of the most exciting and significant things to come out of this years selection.

Since the dawn of civilization, humans have wondered what transcendent intelligence could have created the universe. For some, religion is merely a superstition or an irrational belief that future events can be influenced or foretold by specific, unrelated behaviors or occurrences. The earliest religions were created as a way to deal with ignorance and fear of the unknown. Religious belief can therefore, be seen as one way of attempting to regain control over events in one's life. But whether we believe in a god or not, whether we identify ourselves as theists, atheists or even anti-theists, our world is profoundly influenced by concepts of god and the divine. The human pursuit to bring oneself in harmony with collective worship as a means to find protection, solace and happiness also maintains social relationships and relationships of power as old as humanity itself.

For artist Tom Estes, fantasy and illusion are not contradictions of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives www.TomEstes.info. Estes has strived, not to break down these introverted, often self-imposed boundaries, but to look at how dataflow impacts on the significance and symbolism of real-world human senses. His work 'Watchers: Secrets of the Krell' has introduced a new kind of artwork that functions more as art proposal for a partially realized exhibition; a document of visual and spatial modes of presentation that theorizes a different approach. But in doing so Estes has begun to generate unexpected questions about how art might be able to inscribe itself on the surface of reality- not to represent itself on the surface of reality –not to represent reality, nor to duplicate it, but to replace it.

In his practice Estes has focused on conditions that shape both production and reception of art. At the core of Estes' work is an attention to the paradox of using intervention and history as meta-narrative devices. In 'Watchers' Estes has appropriated the Sci-fi image of writing from the lost language of an ancient and highly advanced alien civilization- and literally projected it directly onto a Bible open at 'Genesis'. By merging these two existing narratives and their related ideological fictions (alien super-beings alongside our own cultural beliefs in an all-powerful creator) the artist transforms both narratives, giving rise to a host of new associations.

The work recalls some of the most outlandish and wild claims of conspiracy theory: that alien astronauts genetically engineered us from apes and placed us back on earth as a new species. However, by projecting directly onto the page Estes over-rides the Biblical text. This act of usurpation alludes to an even more unnerving comparison which emphasizes sex and the reproductive system. The authors of contemporary ‘Alien abduction’ stories often describe being subjected to complex physical and psychological procedures. These involve claims of humans being subjected to forced medical examination, and are described subjectively as nightmarish but real memories of being taken secretly and/or against one’s will by apparently non-human entities.

By merging the common and the absurd, Estes alters not only our perception of Christianity, but also highlights our obsession with tabloid sensation and web fuelled social activity. So putting aside the question of whether abduction reports are literally and objectively “real”, their popularity and their intriguing appeal are easily understood. Conspiracy Theory is compelling and fascinating- but it is also as old as the world itself. Hitler was a master at weaving conspiracy tales and brought the Nazi party to power by blaming the Communist for the Reichstag Fire. Nero concocted one to shift the blame to Christians for the burning of Rome. However, Conspiracy Theory is more than just the belief in an occasional conspiracy. Simply put, it is a whole belief system that asserts that world events are being controlled in secret by a group of ultra-powerful puppeteers behind the scenes. So conspiracy theories that, for example, involve alien abductions project its fictions onto real-life people, families, groups, and organizations that purport it to be actually true. In the post-modern age, tales of abduction are intrinsically absorbing and it is hard to imagine a more vivid description of human powerlessness in the form of a shared delusion- other than ones found in religion. And like religion, the science fiction genre itself has long served as a useful vehicle for "safely" discussing controversial topical issues and often providing thoughtful social commentary on potential unforeseen future issues. Presentation of contemporary issues that are difficult or disturbing for an audience can be made more acceptable when they are explored in a future setting or on a different, earth-like world. The altered context can allow for deeper examination and reflection of the ideas presented, with the perspective of a viewer watching remote events.

An allegorical interpretation of Genesis is a reading of the biblical Book of Genesis that treats elements of the narrative as symbols or types. But even those who favor an allegorical interpretation of the story claim that its intent is to describe humankind's relationship to creation and the creator.The polar opposite would be 'Biblical Literalism': the belief that the Bible, or at least large portions of it, should be read literally, not allegorically. To some extent, literalism is a matter of degree, since not even self-described literalists claim to believe that everything in the Bible is literal. But by literally projecting an image of Krell writing on to the top of the Biblical creation myth of ‘Genesis’ Estes transforms these two narratives and their related ideological fictions. But Estes not only supplants the Christian text, but calls into question the process by which its authenticity as a literal text is propagated. So while religion offers a spiritual answer, it offers very little in the way of tangible proof. However, much of the 'fiction' in science fiction is based on real-life science theory or scientific fact.

But of course criticism of religion is nothing new. The culture of belief itself is contested by numerous scientists, historians, psychologists and ethnologists – those who reject any form of religion, irrationalism, superstition or pseudo-science. In past decades many lobbied instead for a world that is dominated by rationality and intellect in lieu of irrationality and religious hatred. Religion is according to Karl Marx, "the opium of the people" and according to Friedrich Nietzsche, one can reach a higher level of humanness through completely stripping away western Christianity with a "transvaluation of all values". Likewise, for many scientists our Galaxy should be full of advanced alien civilizations, but when they’ve looked the Galaxy appears to be quiet and lonely. Where are all the alien civilizations they ask? Many people would of course argue with this, pointing out that aliens have visited us; that they created the pyramids, Atlantis and humankind itself. By paying homage to the imagined and fictional, Estes has supplanted one grand narrative or ideological fiction for another.

By intentionally leaving the project unrealised, Estes’ closed circuit of illusion mimics and merges with the mass media desire for immediate novelty. In the work, Estes anticipates the online reduction of his installation to a single image. By creating an art-world-as-fiction, the work raises the question of whether this project should be understood as an online representation – using fictional space to comment on the ‘real’ world - or as intervention- actually reordering the real world. Estes work recalls the little known ‘Conquest of Ubiquity’, by Paul Valery which makes prognostications that works of art are designed with their reproducibility in mind. It is therefore neither uniqueness, nor specificity, but the potential for ‘ubiquity’ that yields the value of work made for new media. As we said earlier for Estes, fantasy and illusion are not contradictions of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives. But Estes' work has also begun to generate unexpected questions about how art might be able to inscribe itself on the surface of reality; not to represent itself on the surface of reality, not to represent reality, nor to duplicate it- but to replace it. Just as the movement of commodities presupposes a demand, a work of art must conform to an established, shared protocol. But if we are to judge the latest shift, then it could be said that the language of representation has even superseded the role of the exhibition space in the presentation as art.

In his practice, Estes approaches the theme of 'reality' by engaging with the variety and fidelity of sensory information found on the internet. Estes strives not to break down this introverted, often self-imposed hall of mirrors; instead his theatrical interpretation looks at how dataflow from the virtual realm impacts on the significance and symbolism of real-world human senses. Many artists have now joined Estes and others in feeling that a capacity for lateral, horizontal movement has had a flattening effect upon not only their production, but now also the physical world. This realization makes it all the more interesting to begin to perceive the shape of something else on the horizon—something that will follow the convergence of new forms of popular expression that do not deny, but include the economic realities that have allowed advances in symbolic exchange, but that can also be taken further.

The 2012 Windsor Whitney Biennial opened on March 2nd in New York and also includes the work of: Mitchel Ahern, Stephanie Angelo, Ivana Basic, Martkus Blaus, Sabine Blodorn, Sean Boyce, Zel Brook, katerina Bykhovskaya, Jeannie Choe,Hunter Clarke, Joan Cox, Angela Dieffenbach, Paula Dixon, Travis Donovan, Donna Dralle, Celia Eberle, Celia Eberle, Tom Estes, Tony Faddoul, Ichi Foto, Stephan Fowlkes, Joseph Geary, Maki Hajikano, Leigh Hall, Susan Harmon, Tom Holmes, Shelah Horvitz, CJ Hungerman, Sasa Jantolek, Majorie Kaye, Matthew Keller, Khara Koffel, Renato Koledic, Ya Laford, Rachel Leibman, Gabriella Levine, Charlene Liska, Peter Lograsso, Kate Mackay, Sarah Manuwal, Nenad Marasovic,Nenad Marasovic, Christina Massey, Abdul Mazid, Jason Moan, Nicole Moan, Giuseppe Munafo, Ted Ollier, Bo Petran, Chas Reed, Joan Ryan, Irma Sanchez, Marlene Sarroff, Claudio Scardino, Jeff Schreier, Michele Schuff, Robert Sebanc, Clarissa Shanahan, George Shaw, Kelly Jo Shows, Donna Simons, Gabriel Stallings, B. Avery Syrig, Csaba Szentesi, Vanessa Thompson, Linnea Tober, Mare Vaccaro, Paul Valadez, Rafael Vargas and Terrance Wong