CALIFORNIA MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY, U.C. RIVERSIDE 1993
OLIVER ART CENTER, CALIFORNIA COLLEGE OF ARTS AND CRAFTS, OAKLAND, CA., 1994
DE BEYERD CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART, BREDA, NETHERLANDS 1994
UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, 2006
SAN JOSE INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, 2009
OBSERVATORY is a video installation based on a simple media phenomena. The appearance of static or “snow” on a television occurs when the receiver does not interpret a continuous signal. The snow is radio energy noise received from stellar sources that pass through the atmosphere of the earth. Groups of scientists have felt that among these undifferentiated signals are bands of “intelligible” data, intelligent transmissions from other civilizations in the galaxy. Since the time of space exploration, whether this be a physical probe or one conducted by radio telescope, researchers have recorded audio sounds received on these instruments: radiation belts, solar winds, planet and pulsar emissions. It is postulated that among these billions of signal paths are weak, structured transmissions; recently a complex piece of software has been initiated by SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) to search for these patterns. OBSERVATORY is an installation that employs television static and sounds collected from various stellar sources. The sounds were recorded, yet were not thoroughly studied because they have no quantifiable data; therefore audio samples were no longer than five to seven seconds in length. I have produced an audio track of these sounds mixed to one-half hour: earth’s radiation belts, solar wind off of Uranus, radio emissions from Jupiter and the signal from a wobbling pulsar. When juxtaposed with the large scale projected image of television static, the viewer discerns rational patterns inside the chaotic, random field. As the sound changes, the patterns shift and move. It seems clear that the human brain has a physical matrix which creates meaning and one that searches for understanding. Given these fundamental needs, the viewer can witness and participate in this primary condition while experiencing the piece.
The artist acknowledges the help of the staff at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)
at NASA in Mountain View, California and Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, California.