The latest from artist Jonathon Keats: a "cosmic welcome mat" to greet visitors from outer space. The mats will be placed at various locations around the Bedford Park campus of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, to coincide with the 68th International Astronautical Congress that will be taking place nearby. The mats will be examined periodically to check for signs of extraterrestrial visitation.
From a press release:
"Years ago, Fermi famously questioned the existence of intelligent life throughout the universe," says experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats. "Fermi asked, 'Where is everybody?' Maybe the reason we've never encountered aliens is that they never felt invited. From an outsider's perspective, human behavior can appear pretty unfriendly, and that impression has some truth to it."
To counter the hostility of his species, and to communicate hospitality to aliens, Mr. Keats enlisted the most welcoming of human inventions. His cosmic welcome mat, developed in consultation with Flinders space archaeologist Alice Gorman, translates the concept of welcomeness into a visual language that all sentient beings can potentially comprehend.
"In fact, the mat comes in four different versions," says Dr. Gorman. "Since we can't make any assumptions about beings we've never encountered, and certainly can't assume that they're versed in human culture, it's important to present them with different options built on different premises." For instance, one version of the mat expresses welcomeness in terms of geometric fit, while another does so by biological analogy, evoking room for growth.
Dr. Gorman and a team of Flinders students will rigorously monitor use of the intergalactic doormats, employing standard archaeological sampling techniques. The carpeting will be regularly vacuumed for sediment. Comparison of sedimentary deposits can provide important data about how effectively welcomeness has been communicated by each design. These data will inform future iterations of the mat, slated for distribution worldwide, and potential future deployment on the International Space Station.
The concept reminds me of the various UFO landing ports that have been constructed throughout the world, such as the one in Lake City, PA. Also relevant is Douglas Curran's book, In Advance of the Landing, about objects built by people in anticipation of the arrival of extraterrestrials.
Transgender Canadian artist Cassils will display the following installation at New York's Ronald Feldman Fine Arts gallery on Sept. 16. Description from the artist's website:
The centerpiece is PISSED, a minimalist glass cube containing 200 gallons of urine: a collection of all the liquid the artist has passed since the Trump administration rescinded an Obama-era executive order allowing transgender students to use the bathroom matching their chosen gender identities. The sculpture is contextualized by audio recordings from the Virginia school board and the Fourth Court of Appeals articulating the ignorance and biases that run through every level of judicial proceedings.
My first thought was, that's a lot of pee. Trump rescinded Obama's executive order on Feb. 22. So 206 days will have passed between the rescinding and the exhibit on Sep 16, which means Cassils, in turn, must be passing about a gallon of urine per day. According to MedlinePlus, it's normal to excrete about half-a-gallon a day, assuming you're drinking 2 liters of water a day. Cassils must be drinking about 4 liters of water a day to be peeing that much.
My second thought was that urine art is one of those things that Chuck would describe as no longer weird.
Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 20, 2017 -
"Hints of drugginess in the eyes, and suggestions of Sapphic eroticism laid on with a trowel, created a sultry visual cocktail that appealed equally to celebrities of the order of Rudolph Valentino, Joan Crawford and King George VI, all of whom had their portraits painted, and the general public."
New Zealand artist Kirsty Lillico recently won the annual Parkin Drawing Prize, which netted her $20,000. The question her win has raised is, was her piece, titled "State Block," actually a drawing? It consisted of pieces of carpet draped over string.
Lillico said, "Drawing, to me, it's not just about a pencil and paper. I'm using a knife and carpet and hanging it in a space to achieve the same ends."
The prize's patron, Chris Parkin, admits that the piece stretches the definition of a drawing, but he notes it was "still lines, at the end of the day... somebody has taken a knife, and started a line and taken it for a walk."
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
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