World-Building with the Afrofuturist Podcast

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Wednesday, May 22
7 p.m. (doors at 6:30)
NeueHouse Hollywood

Led by AFPC host Ahmed Best, AFPC co-creator Lonny J. Avi Brooks, and game designer Eli Kosminsky, we’ll play-test a new game for radical imagining, where the goal is to co-produce visions of diverse futures — in deep and speculative detail.

This event is free and open to the public. Please join us!

For questions about accessibility or to request accommodation, contact Lacey Wozny at lrw@fathomers.org or 913-669-8705.

Seating is limited; registration is required to attend. Please RSVP here.


ABOUT THE PRESENTERS

Ahmed Best is a senior fellow at the Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC; host of the Afrofuturist Podcast; CEO of BISN Media; and a writer, director, producer, actor, musician, and futurist. A founding member of the acid jazz group the Jazzhole, in New York, he starred in the Broadway musical Stomp and as the first CGI lead character in a motion picture, as Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequel trilogy: The Phantom MenaceAttack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith

Best is an MFA graduate of the American Film Institute and has received honors including an Ovation Award, an LACC Award, a Stage Raw Award, and an ANNIE award. He is executive producer of Dinner at LOLA (Stop That Bangin Productions/BISN Media) andThe DL Chronicles (GLAAD Award winner for Best Miniseries), as well as creator, writer, and director of science-fiction comedy The Nebula.

Lonny J. Avi Brooks is an associate professor of strategic communication and media studies at California State University, East Bay, where he has piloted the integration of futures thinking into the communication curriculum for the last 15 years. He contributes prolifically to journals, conferences, and anthologies on subjects related to Afrofuturism and forecasting. Most recently, he published “Diverse Alternative Learning Visions 2026-2066: Transforming and Reframing the University as a Lifelong Social Design Lab,” co-written with colleague Ian Pollock, in Futures Thinking and Organizational PolicyCase Studies for Managing Rapid Change in Technology, Globalization, and Workforce Diversity. He is also lead co-editor of a Journal of Futures Studies special issue, titled “When Is Wakanda: Afrofuturism and Dark Speculative Futurism,” forthcoming in November 2019. 

Brooks is co-executive producer and co-creator, with Ahmed Best, of the Afrofuturist Podcast; lead organizer and advisory board member for the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM), in Oakland; and principal leader for BSAM Futures, which aims to publish comprehensive, inclusive and collaborative analyses of contemporary Afrocentric works. He also volunteers as a core member for outreach at Dynamicland.org, a pioneering non-profit dedicated to creating a more collaborative and dynamic computational medium for the long term.

Eli Kosminsky is an educational game designer and developer from the Concord Consortium, a non-profit developing tools for STEM education. He is also one-half of Room and Board Games, a small board-game publisher that launched in 2017 on Kickstarter with Ursa Miner, a game about bears mining honey. 

Since moving to San Francisco, Kosminsky has partnered with Lonny J. Avi Brooks to mentor Afrofuturist game jams and develop physical games for forecasting queer and Afrofuturist stories. In collaboration with the California College of the Arts, Kosminsky is also developing In It Together, a climate change game about equitable solutions to sea-level rise in East Oakland. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he spent several years at the MIT Education Arcade. 

Anthony Weeks began working as a public listener and graphic facilitator in 1998. Over the course of his career, he has worked nationally and internationally with leaders, product developers, and strategists to facilitate dialogue and ideation, think visually, and turn data into stories.

Weeks’s documentary films have been screened in the United States and around the world. He was a 2009 grant recipient from the Princess Grace Foundation in New York/Monaco. He was honored with an Emmy and a student Academy Award for his 2010 documentary short, Imaginary Circumstances. In 2011, Weeks was one of several American film directors selected by the US State Department to travel to embassies and consulates abroad as part of the American Documentary Showcase, a cultural exchange program.

He holds an MFA from Stanford University, a master’s of social work from Augsburg College (MN), and a BA with honors from Grinnell College. He was a 1997-98 Coro Fellow in Public Affairs.

Spirit Molecule II

Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Phillip Andrew Lewis’s Spirit Molecule imagines a future of bio-technologized mourning, where the DNA of a lost loved one could be spliced with the genetic code of a psychoactive plant to produce a hybrid specimen rich with empathic possibility.  

Dewey-Hagborg and Lewis first posited their vision in Spirit Molecule I, at Lifespace (Dundee, Scotland), in October 2018, where a greenhouse containing legal local plants with psychoactive properties and a four-channel video installation explored the protocols for the propagation of genetically modified plants as memorials.  

Fathomers is pleased to announce its support for Spirit Molecule II, the project’s next phase, in which the artists are working with scientists at Michigan State University to bioengineer and produce a genetic memorial plant in situ at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU.

Spirit Molecule II opens June 2019.

 
Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Phillip Andrew Lewis,  Spirit Molecule I , 2018. At LifeSpace, University of Dundee.

Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Phillip Andrew Lewis, Spirit Molecule I, 2018. At LifeSpace, University of Dundee.

 



VandenBrooks Lab

At his research lab in Glendale, Ariz., John VandenBrooks studies how varying amounts of atmospheric oxygen over geologic time influenced the physiology, development, and evolution of animals. In March, Michael Jones McKean and Fathomers went to visit.

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VandenBrooks is consulting on McKean’s Atmosphere, which involves replicating an ancient atmosphere within an enclosed environment.

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VandenBrooks manipulates the atmospheric composition in controlled chambers by varying the amounts of oxygen, nitrogen, and/or carbon dioxide released into the chamber by individual gas tanks.  

A four-channel gas regulator monitors and controls the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere. Sensors within the chamber detect gas levels in real time, enabling the regulator to automatically make slight adjustments as needed to maintain a constant atmosphere.

The atmosphere in this chamber contains 21 percent oxygen, simulating present-day Earth. Cockroaches live on the top shelf; fruit flies live in the vials below.

Other environments in VandenBrooks’ lab contain 31 percent oxygen — akin to the Permo-Carboniferous Period, about 300 million years ago — and 12 percent oxygen, the lowest level present on Earth’s surface since the evolution of vertebrate life.

Cockroaches born and raised in chambers that contain 31 percent oxygen can be seen to increase in size by 20 percent in one generation. (VandenBrooks: "They don't bite!")

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A concurrent project is underway in VandenBrooks’ lab to investigate the emerging role of the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) as a vector for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever transmission. Tick samples are geo-coordinated with a map (shown here) of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. 

Supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Atmosphere is currently imagined as one of a dozen sites in McKean’s long-term, planetary artwork, Twelve Earths.

To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

 
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"Art & Permission"

Artist/writer Jill Magid (The Proposal) and artist/activist Jill Soloway (Transparent) both trace and trouble the systems of power that invisibly shape our lives. In February, as part of Frieze Week at NeueHouse, Fathomers presented “Art & Permission,” a conversation with the artists exploring how permission — asking for it and not asking for it; having it granted or denied — variously enables, challenges, and invigorates their work.

The day before, we also presented an advance screening of Magid’s The Proposal, which will be released May 24 by Oscilloscope Laboratories.

A very special thanks to ArtConverge and NeueHouse for partnering with us on this very special event!

NEA Grant for Twelve Earths

Michael Jones McKean Studio, digital rendering of "Atmosphere,"  Twelve Earths , 2018.

Michael Jones McKean Studio, digital rendering of "Atmosphere," Twelve Earths, 2018.

The National Endowment for the Arts has approved an Art Works grant of $25,000 to Fathomers for the development of artist Michael Jones McKean’s “Atmosphere,” one of a dozen sites in a long-term, planetary artwork called Twelve Earths.

"Atmosphere" is imagined as a shelter out of time: a simple house, a vernacular structure, compatible with the surrounding landscape — but a house that slips invisibly into difference. In its interior, the shelter will contain a precise atmospheric composition describing a time before us. Entering this space, we slip backwards into air before humans, before ant colonies, before animals that live among us, before plants we might recognize. We commune with other ages; we travel in time, enveloped in a shroud of atmosphere hundreds of millions of years old. 

Co-developed with scientists and to be complemented by a robust program of conversations and performances, the work seeks to contribute to public dialogue about long-term thinking and ecological stewardship by offering a visceral, transportive experience across an otherwise unfathomable timescale.

"We hope to design 'Atmosphere' as a semi-permanent installation," says Stacy Switzer, Fathomers' curator and executive director, "to be maintained and open to the public for a minimum of one year. Ultimately, though, the goal is to survive much longer: to exist as time outside of time; a space of mysterious origin and quality to be discovered by adventuring tourists and art pilgrims alike; a breath that pre-dates the human, and suggests what we might return to again." 


more about this:

In December 2017, we presented "Ancient Atmosphere," a conversation with artist Michael Jones McKean, paleophysiologist John VandenBrooks, and curator Stacy Switzer on the challenges and poetics of replicating an ancient Earth atmosphere within a residential domicile. You can listen to that here!

FRIEZE WEEK & FATHOMERS

Fathomers presents two programs in conjunction with Frieze Week at NeueHouse: a film screening of The Proposal, by Jill Magid, and a conversation on “Art & Permission” with Jill Magid and Jill Soloway. Please join us!

Jill Magid.  The Proposal , 2018. Production still. Courtesy the artist and Oscilloscope Laboratories.

Jill Magid. The Proposal, 2018. Production still. Courtesy the artist and Oscilloscope Laboratories.

THE PROPOSAL
Film screening

Wednesday, Feb. 13 
3:30 p.m. (doors at 3 p.m.) 
NeueHouse Hollywood, 6121 Sunset Blvd. 

The Proposal follows conceptual artist Jill Magid as she develops a radical project to explore artistic legacy, centering on the celebrated archive of Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Magid cultivates relationships with Barragán's family members, his admirers, and the director of the Barragán Foundation, in Switzerland — where the architect’s archives are aggressively "protected" and kept from public view.

Please join us for a screening of Magid's debut film, to be released in theaters this spring by Oscilloscope Laboratories. This is a free event, but RSVP is required; please email us at yes@fathomers.org.


ART & PERMISSION
A conversation with
Jill Magid and Jill Soloway 

Thursday, Feb. 14
9:30 a.m. (doors at 9 a.m.) 
NeueHouse Hollywood, 6121 Sunset Blvd. 

Artist/writer Jill Magid (The Proposal) and artist/activist Jill Soloway (Transparent) both trace and trouble the systems of power that invisibly shape our lives. As part of Frieze Week at NeueHouse, Fathomers presents a conversation between the artists exploring how permission — asking for it and not asking for it; having it granted or denied — variously enables, challenges, and invigorates their work.

Complimentary coffee, tea, and light breakfast goods will be served. This is a free event, but RSVP is required; please email us at yes@fathomers.org.


ABOUT THE ARTISTS

 
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Jill Magid is an artist, writer and filmmaker. Solo exhibitions include Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; San Francisco Art Institute; Tate Modern, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Berkeley Museum of Art, California; Tate Liverpool; and the Security and Intelligence Agency of the Netherlands. She has participated in Manifesta and the Liverpool, Bucharest, Singapore, Incheon, Gothenburg, Oslo, and Performa Biennials. Magid is the recipient of the 2017 Calder Prize. Her first feature film, The Proposal, which premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, will be released in theaters in spring 2019 by Oscilloscope Laboratories. 

 
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Jill Soloway is an artist and activist who created the Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning Amazon streaming program Transparent. Jill also co-created and directed I Love Dick and wrote and directed the feature film Afternoon Delight, which won the 2013 Directing Award at Sundance. Jill founded TOPPLE, an intersectional brand for the revolution to create TV and film content, as well as TOPPLE BOOKS, an imprint of Little A. Jill has published two memoirs, She Wants It: Desire, Power and Toppling the Patriarchy (Crown/PRH) and Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants (Free Press/Simon and Schuster). Jill co-founded 5050by2020, an artist empowerment network and strategic initiative of Time's Up, as well as the community organization East Side Jews and the spoken word series Sit n' Spin. Jill also co-created theatrical experiences The Real Live Brady Bunch and Hollywood Hell House. Jill lives in Los Angeles with their family.

 

EVENT INVITE: "DEAR DONOR"

Heather Dewey-Hagborg,  T3511 , 2018, film still, 9:04 min. (Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Toshiaki Ozawa)

Heather Dewey-Hagborg, T3511, 2018, film still, 9:04 min. (Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Toshiaki Ozawa)

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16
6:30 p.m.
Broad Art Center at UCLA

“To break a cell is to trespass the most intimate of spaces.”
-- Heather Dewey-Hagborg,
T3511


Fathomers
and UCLA Art|Sci Center invite you to join us for “Dear Donor,” a manifold consideration of the intimacies to be revealed in genomic data.

Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg will screen a single-channel version of her short film T3511 (2018, 9:04 min.), a “post-genomic love story” that follows a biohacker’s increasingly obsessive interactions with an anonymous saliva donor. The work had its premiere as a four-channel installation at MU Artspace, in Eindhoven, in May 2018.

Then the artist will be joined in conversation by bio-engineer Sri Kosuri, whose lab develops technologies for editing DNA; and science historian Soraya de Chadarevian, who studies the material and visual practices of the biomedical sciences. Possible points of discussion: citizen sleuthing; the rise of consumer genomics; chromosomes, as viewed through a microscope.

The event takes place at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, at the Experimental Digital Arts space at the Broad Art Center at UCLA (240 Charles E. Young Drive North). It is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit the event page here

Fathomers thanks the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Art for its 2018-2019 program support. 

ABOUT HEATHER DEWEY-HAGBORG
Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a transdisciplinary artist and educator whose controversial bio-political projects include Stranger Visions, in which she created portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material (hair, cigarette butts, chewed-up gum) collected in public places. She exhibits internationally, having shown at the World Economic Forum, the Shenzhen Urbanism and Architecture Biennale, the Van Abbemuseum, Transmediale, and PS1 MOMA, and her work is held in the public collections of the Centre Pompidou, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the New York Historical Society, among others. Dewey-Hagborg has a PhD in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is artist-in-residence at the Exploratorium, in San Francisco; artist fellow at AI Now; an affiliate of Data & Society; and co-founder and co-curator of REFRESH, an inclusive and politically engaged collaborative platform at the intersection of art, science and technology.

ABOUT SRI KOSURI
Sri Kosuri is an assistant professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at UCLA, where his laboratory develops technologies for reading, writing and editing DNA. Previously a member of the Advanced Technology Team in the Synthetic Biology Platform at the Wyss Institute, Kosuri earned an ScD in biological engineering at MIT, working in Drew Endy's lab, and completed postdoctoral research in George Church’s lab in the department of genetics at Harvard Medical School. He also co-founded OpenWetWare, a platform to promote the sharing of information among bio-researchers and bio-engineers.

ABOUT SORAYA DE CHADAREVIAN
Soraya de Chadarevian is a Professor in the department of history and at the Institute for Society and Genetics, both at UCLA. With backgrounds in biology, philosophy, and the history of science, de Chadarevian is interested in the material and visual practices of the biomedical sciences and the place of these sciences in the broader culture, as well as in historiographical issues, including the question of sources for the history of science. She has worked extensively on the history of molecular biology and the complex cultural processes that contributed to the development of the new science after World War II. She is currently completing a book manuscript on chromosomes (as viewed through the microscope), visual evidence, and the study of human heredity in the second half of the 20th century.

ABOUT FATHOMERS
Fathomers is a creative research institute dedicated to producing sites and encounters that challenge us to live and act differently in the world. As the successor to Grand Arts (1995-2015) — the influential project space that produced the Propeller Group’s A Universe of Collisions, William Pope.L’s Trinket, and Tavares Strachan’s Orthostatic Tolerance, among many others — we cultivate the ideas of diehard dreamers, commission projects that seem far-fetched, and enlist expansive thinkers across disciplines to redefine the limits of scale, scope and support for artist-led projects. We do this because we value discoveries made absent predetermined outcomes, and we believe in the power of the realized dream as a model for visionary change.

ABOUT UCLA ART|SCI CENTER
The UCLA Art|Sci Center is dedicated to pursuing and promoting the evolving “Third Culture” by facilitating the infinite potential of collaborations between (media) arts and (bio/nano) sciences. Through the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture’s Design Media Arts Department and the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), the center supports visiting research scholars and artists-in-residence from around the world. Through various lectures, mixers, and symposia, artists and scientists are brought together in order to mesh these cultures and inspire individuals to think about art and science as interrelated and a very relevant synergism of society.

"ETA" PICS

On July 26, 2018, "ETA" — a one-night-only "earthbound travelers' anthology" — coalesced live under the trees at Vista Hermosa Natural Park by an interdisciplinary coterie of readers and writers on the theme of connecting across time, space and place.

The selections by this group — which included curator David Kim, cultural historian Catherine Gudis, physicist Clifford Johnson, poet Elizabeth Metzger, writer and musician Claire Evans, JPL engineer Randii Wessen, poet Safiya Sinclair, and Engadget editor-in-chief Christopher Trout  served to inspire musings on deep time, the here-and-now and other scales of experience.

The readings were bookended by musical performances by Lionmilk and Scott Gilmore.

(photos: Lauren Wade)

"ETA," in its concern for space and time, alluded to Michael Jones McKean’s Twelve Earths, a long-form artwork scaled to the Earth itself. Designed to unfurl as a series of extended collaborations over years to come, the work takes shape as a 25,000-mile-long "great circle" stretching completely around the planet to connect 12 sites of sculpture and event.

"ETA" also served as the welcome event for participants of Twelve Earths: Open Signal, a research convening organized by McKean, Fathomers and co-curator David Kim, where an interdisciplinary group of collaborators began to co-author the design and messaging of a global communication system for Twelve Earths


Fathomers thanks the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Art, WeTransfer, the Science and Entertainment Exchange, and the Art Law Firm for their program support.  

EVENT INVITE: "ETA"

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THURSDAY, JULY 26
6:30-9:30 p.m.
Vista Hermosa Natural Park


Fathomers invites you to join us for "ETA," a one-night commons of thought to muse on deep time, the here-and-now and other scales of experience.

We've asked some of the most exciting thinkers in and around Los Angeles — including writer/musician Claire Evans, cultural historian Catherine Gudis, physicist Clifford Johnson, curator David Kim, poets Elizabeth Metzger and Safiya Sinclair, JPL engineer Randii Wessen, Engadget editor-in-chief Christopher Trout, and others — to look to their own bookshelves for inspiration. Each has selected a poem or passage to read aloud that evening, collectively creating an “earthbound travelers anthology” on the theme of connecting across time, space and place.

The event takes place Thursday, July 26, at Vista Hermosa Natural Park (100 N. Toluca St.), with food, drinks, live music, conversation and exchange. It is free and open to the public.

From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., the Green Truck will offer salads, sandwiches and bowls for purchase in the Vista Hermosa parking lot. Complimentary cocktails, beer, tea and lemonade will be available in the grotto/amphitheater area of the park.

A musical performance by Lionmilk begins at 7 p.m.; the readings start at 7:30 p.m.; and Scott Gilmore plays immediately to follow.

"ETA," in its concern for space and time, alludes to Michael Jones McKean’s Twelve Earths, a long-form artwork scaled to the Earth itself. Designed to unfurl as a series of extended collaborations over years to come, the work takes shape as a 25,000-mile-long "great circle" stretching completely around the planet to connect 12 sites of sculpture and event.

Twelve Earths: Open Signal is a research convening organized by McKean, Fathomers and co-curator David Kim, taking place July 27-28, 2018, in Los Angeles, where an interdisciplinary group of collaborators will begin to co-author the design and messaging of a global communication system for Twelve Earths. Fathomers is pleased to welcome the Open Signal participants to "ETA."

For more information, visit the event page here

Fathomers thanks the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Art, WeTransfer, the Science and Entertainment Exchange, and the Art Law Firm for their program support.  
 

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Michael Jones McKean (b. 1976 Micronesia, lives/works New York City, and Dijon, France) has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and fellowships at the MFAH Core Program, the International Studio and Curatorial Program, the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, the MacDowell Colony, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts among many others. McKean is an Associate Professor of Sculpture + Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he has taught since 2006.

ABOUT FATHOMERS
Fathomer is a creative research institute dedicated to producing sites and encounters that challenge us to live and act differently in the world. As the successor to Grand Arts (1995-2015) — the influential project space that produced the Propeller Group’s A Universe of Collisions, William Pope.L’s Trinket, and Tavares Strachan’s Orthostatic Tolerance, among many others — we cultivate the ideas of diehard dreamers, commission projects that seem far-fetched, and enlist expansive thinkers across disciplines to redefine the limits of scale, scope and support for artist-led projects. We do this because we value discoveries made absent predetermined outcomes, and we believe in the power of the realized dream as a model for visionary change.

 

LISTENING PARTY, VIDEO PREMIERE

(photo: Matt Martin) 

(photo: Matt Martin) 

O by SSION

Listening Party and Video Premiere

Thursday, June 7, 2018
6:30-8:30 p.m.
at NeueHouse Hollywood

Join Fathomers and longtime collaborator Cody Critcheloe as we celebrate the release of SSION’s new album, O  "the sound of the zeitgeist catching up with Ssion," according to Pitchfork  with an indoor/outdoor listening party and happy hour at NeueHouse. Critcheloe and friends will be on the scene to screen SSION's most recent videos, including the latest: "Heaven is My Thing Again.

Space is limited; please RSVP here

ANCIENT ATMOSPHERE

On Dec. 6, 2017, Fathomers presented a conversation among artist Michael Jones McKean; paleophysiologist John VandenBrooks; and Stacy Switzer, Fathomers’ curator and executive director, on McKean’s effort to replicate a 300-million-year-old atmosphere within a simple residential house — one of a dozen sites around the world that make up Twelve Earths, the project-in-progress launched by McKean and Fathomers to unfurl over the next decade.

"Atmosphere is the thing that we're living in.

It's the thing that literally shrouds our bodies, the thing that seeps into our clothes, the thing that we breathe inside of our bodies momentarily, and extract something, and then exhale certain exhaust out.

It's the thing that we kind of take for granted every single second of our life.

As an artist, trying to think about a project that considers the earth itself as a total object, it felt essential to consider this invisible force field that is gluing us all together in the room -- that is at one with us right now."

-- Michael Jones McKean

 
 

Michael Jones McKean (b. 1976, Micronesia) is an associate professor of sculpture and extended media at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he has taught since 2006, and the co-director of ASMBLY, in New York. He has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Nancy Graves Foundation Award, an Artadia Award, and fellowships and residencies from the Core Program (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), the International Studio and Curatorial Program (New York), the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program (New York), the MacDowell Colony, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts — where he devised and employed a large-scale self-contained water harvesting and storage system to produce a simple but phenomenal visual event: a rainbow in the sky.

John VandenBrooks, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of physiology at Midwestern University in Glendale, Ariz.. His research focuses on how varying amounts of atmospheric oxygen over geologic time influenced the physiology, development and evolution of animals. He has consulted on and appeared in television and radio programs from National Geographic, the Science Channel, the History Channel and the BBC, and has been awarded grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the American Museum of Natural History, and the American Philosophical Society, among many others. VandenBrooks received his Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Yale University in 2007 .

Myco-Cosmos

 
Myco-Cosmos
 

Fathomers invites you to join us for MYCO-COSMOS, a guided exploration of biology, space travel and the interconnected universe led by famed mycologist Paul Stamets, with live accompaniment by new age musical legend Laraaji. 

Conceived as part of our ongoing collaboration with artist/mycologist Phil Ross to grow spacesuits and other astronautical provisions from fungal, mycelium-based materials, this outdoor performance aims to inspire an evening of ecstatic learning about how organisms move through the world — those vast, strange trips — and convey an alternative approach to the typical visualization and modeling of organic phenomena. 

MYCO-COSMOS takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Los Angeles State Historic Park (1245 N. Spring St., in Los Angeles). It is free and open to the public.

Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and attendees are welcome to bring blankets and chairs into the park.

ASL interpretation will be provided. 

Facebook event page here

About the Presenters 

Paul Stamets, D.Sc., is the author of six books, including Psilocybin Mushrooms of the WorldMycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, and Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. He has received numerous awards, including the Mycological Society of America’s Gordon and Tina Wasson Award — for attracting more students to the field of mycology than anyone in history — and was named a 2014-2015 Invention Ambassador by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His influence is also visible in pop culture: Starfleet astromycologist Lt. Paul Stamets (portrayed by actor Anthony Rapp) now appears in the 2017 Star Trek: Discovery series on CBS. 

Laraaji Nadabrahmananda is a meditator, laugh-master and cosmic musician who has performed in Europe, Asia and in the United States with his specially designed electric zither. He also uses the African Mbire, piano, synthesizers, hand drums, percussions, Tibetan gong, and voice in his presentations. Early collaboration with producer Brian Eno led to Laraaji's first internationally distributed recording, Ambient #3: Day of Radiance. He has performed and released albums consistently since the late 1970s. 

About Phil Ross

As an artist, Phil Ross has exhibited work at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Jurassic Technology; as a bioengineering scholar at Stanford University, he’s working to develop an internet of biological things. He’s also co-founder and CEO of MycoWorks, a start-up that turns mycelium (the threadlike, vegetative part of mushrooms) into building bricks and leather — where he’s poised to revolutionize the materials industry with bio-design.

'TWELVE EARTHS' LAUNCH

(LOS ANGELES - AUG. 23, 2017) — Fathomers is pleased to announce the launch of Twelve Earths, an extended collaboration with Michael Jones McKean, in which the artist asserts a contemporary mythos considering the earth as a single, unified body of parallel, crisscrossing narratives; a sculptural poem on time, being, becoming, and re-becoming. In its transcendence of boundary lines — both terrestrial and extraterrestrial, physical and nonphysical — the work encourages the earth to grow as a container of more infinite, robust, and wanton histories and realities. In totality, Twelve Earths will emerge as a sculpture scaled to the planet itself, revealing ambitions geologic, archaeologic, ecologic, folkloric, and humanistic.

Designed to unfurl over the course of a decade, the project takes the form of a terrestrial loop around the globe, a 25,000-mile great circle unifying 12 precisely geo-coordinated locations that embody and reflect the broadest spectrum of possibility: mineral deposits and nuclear fallout, alchemy and science, continents and continental drift, cities and primeval forests, architecture and geology, water birth clinics and animal sanctuaries. By building a dense meshwork of contact points with people, places, processes, objects, and events — establishing brief and long-form encounters where time/space distances can swirl, collapse, and dissolve — these sites aim to stimulate the recombinatory, transmutational, co-occurring realities ever-present within the world.

 
Twelve Earths  geolocation research material, 2017. 

Twelve Earths geolocation research material, 2017. 

 

Twelve Earths is a project born of deep, abiding curiosity about the full range of possible experience on this planet,” says Stacy Switzer, curator and executive director of Fathomers. “It insists that we think beyond ourselves and outside the myopia of the present to consider the past and future as tangible, affecting frames of reference.

“As an organization, Fathomers exists to carve space for the unfathomable, and to propose and test new models of earnest and generative collaboration between artists, scientists, institutions, and the public,” Switzer says. “We are incredibly fortunate to be working with Michael, whose vision for Twelve Earths is as generous as it is demanding in terms of re-thinking scope, scale, and support structures for artist-led projects.”

 
  Teignmouth Electron,  2017. (photo: All in Favor Productions)

 Teignmouth Electron, 2017. (photo: All in Favor Productions)

 

Twelve Earths’ opening stanza involves the Teignmouth Electron, an infamous sailing vessel commissioned for a solo attempt in the late 1960s to circle the earth without stopping; its journey ended in tragic failure for the amateur yachtsman at its helm. Beached for decades on the remote Caribbean island of Cayman Brac, the decaying trimaran has long been a muse of artists, inspiring literature, artworks, plays, performances, photographs, folklore, films, songs, and journalistic accounts. For McKean, who purchased the boat ten years ago, the vessel operates as a siren-like talisman — a ruin now morphed into relic.

“The designed purpose of this boat was to traverse the earth and to understand it — not in the abstract, as a map or data set, but as a complex, four-dimensional object,” says artist Michael Jones McKean. “The boat feels like a logical entry point, then, in imagining an artwork that considers the earth as a total object, its stories and intensities.”

In March 2017, McKean, Fathomers, and a team of researchers traveled to Cayman Brac to create an archaeological record of the Electron, an effort that culminated in the selection of a single wood fragment from the wreckage site. That fragment will next undergo a hyper-rapid aging process, racing through millions of years of molecular time in a matter of weeks to emerge as a fossil — one that maintains an anthro-record of contemporary existence, yet is encoded with all the markers of an object that has endured epochs. On a site identified by a titanium marker, this new fossil will be inserted deep in the earth’s geologic record, a small portal between timelines and realities, to serve as the first of 12 beacons in Twelve Earths.

 
Teignmouth Electron , 2017.

Teignmouth Electron, 2017.

 

The coordinates to come (an ordinary house harboring a 300-million-year-old atmosphere; a newly engineered tree species; an F1 engine grown in bone …) will be revealed as they manifest over time, encouraging a more empathic relationship to materials and bodies in the fullest, most speculative sense. In their extremeness, these loci build out a weird humanism composed of energies, evolutions, speeds, spaces, universes, planets, extinction, and regeneration — the very motions of life at all registers. As a linked set, they compress a physical narrative that can be understood in pieces and fragments, yet also endure as a single, cohesive unit.

An artwork framed within the here-and-now, Twelve Earths attempts to tell us about ourselves, within a structure that nods to a long history of humans attempting to understand our world. Within the project’s conceptual and material DNA, though, is a desire to commune with unknown and distant futures, with obscene geologic timescales — worlds remote and without us. As the project arcs toward completion, its earthbound circuit will be retraced from above by a satellite, circumnavigating the ring in concentric orbit from the void of space.

PUBLIC PROGRAMS: LOS ANGELES (FALL 2017)

As Twelve Earths seeks to link locations, so it does people and stories, expertise and experience, the sum total of which will define the limits of the project. Fathomers and McKean are pleased to be working with an extended team of scientists, technologists, engineers, and thinkers. A series of public programs beginning in October 2017 will in part facilitate early- and mid-stage collaborative research, informing and extending the technical and communicative possibilities of the project.

The collaboration also involves the production of a porous project website, where back-end activity — conversations, documentation, mock-ups, links, musings, and tangents — will be freely available to access and engage, to explore development of thought and depth of action in unusually permeable ways.

ABOUT MICHAEL JONES MCKEAN

Michael Jones McKean (b. 1976, Micronesia, lives / works New York City) is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Nancy Graves Foundation Award and an Artadia Award. McKean has been awarded fellowships and residencies at the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; MacDowell Colony; International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York; Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts; and Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, New York.

McKean’s work has been exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Parc Saint Leger Centre d’art Contemporain, Nevers, France; Horton Gallery, New York, NY; Quebec Biennale, Quebec City; Gentili Apri, Berlin; the Art Foundation, Athens, Greece; Inman Gallery, Houston, TX; Parisian Laundry, Montreal; Project Gentili, Prato, Italy; Shenkar University, Tel Aviv; the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among many others.

McKean is currently an Associate Professor in the Sculpture + Extended Media Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he has taught since 2006, and co-director of ASMBLY, based in New York.

ABOUT FATHOMERS

Twelve Earths is co-developed and produced by Fathomers, a creative research institute in Los Angeles dedicated to producing transformative sites and encounters at the intersections of science, technology, and contemporary art.

As the successor to Grand Arts — the influential project space in Kansas City, Mo., that operated from 1995 to 2015 — we commit to implausible sets of ideas shaped by urgent conditions and proceed with open minds, engaging expansive thinkers to resolve complex problems and documenting our experiments along the way. We do this because we value discoveries made absent predetermined outcomes, and we believe in the power of the realized dream as a test site and model for visionary change.

SCIENCE SPEED DATING

On June 28, at NeueHouse Hollywood, Fathomers co-presented Science Speed Dating—7 top scientists giving 7-minute talks on their latest developments and game-changing work—with the Science and Entertainment Exchange (a National Academy of Arts and Sciences program) and the Museum of Imagined Futures.

Fathomers enlisted as presenters two visionary thinkers who commingle fields of science and art: Tahir Hemphill, data sculptor and rap researcher; and Phil Ross, aforementioned inventor and founder of MycoWorks.

Tahir’s “Hip-Hop Word Count” database collects information from the lyrics of hundreds of thousands of rap songs since 1979, permitting language analysis related to, for example, syntax, sentiment, and rhyme. As a hip-hop corpus, it forms the basic text for the Rap Research Lab, an educational curriculum and youth program founded by Tahir—and for his own artistic practice, as well. In his latest project, Maximum Distance. Minimum Displacement, Tahir isolates geographic data specific to 12 artists, converts that data into a system of geo-coordinates, and then uses those coordinates to direct the movements of an industrial robot arm, ultimately producing abstract sculptural forms. Commissioned by California College of the Arts, in San Francisco, the show runs September 5 through October 14 at CCA’s Hubbell Street Galleries.

 
 

FATHOMERS BUY-A-BRICK CAMPAIGN

We've launched our first-ever fundraising effort: the Fathomers Buy-a-Brick Campaign, featuring sculptural mycelium objects that MycoWorks' Phil Ross taught us how to grow. We aren't building any walls, though -- which means that when you contribute $100 or more via this link, we send the artist-produced, limited-edition, bio-magical brick straight to you!

Image credit: Carson Davis Brown

Image credit: Carson Davis Brown

'WHAT'S NEEDED NOW'

Salon's Noah Charney ponders funding for the arts in a Trump administration. Switzer weighs in: “What’s needed now isn’t more artwork that feeds the market ... We need work that tears down walls and trespasses across boundaries — work that truly changes us, and reminds us who we can be on our best days."

 
Credit: Getty/Alex Wong/Mireia Triguero Roura

Credit: Getty/Alex Wong/Mireia Triguero Roura

 

HOMETOWN LOVE FOR P&P

A double dose of hometown love for Grand Arts and P&P via CJ Janovy, at KCUR, and James Martin, for KC Studio. "Problems and Provocations provides powerful testimony," writes Martin, "that when an organization truly possesses the will and the resources to say yes to artists, amazing things can happen.”

 
 

GRAND ARTS: 'OPTIMISTIC,' 'REVOLUTIONARY'

On the International Sculpture Center blog, Jan Garden Castro revisits a 2002 interaction with Grand Arts — and advocates for the vision it set forth: "I didn’t realize until I read this book how messy and blindly optimistic Grand Arts was to commission work as revolutionary as Cronin’s Memorial and Sanford Biggers’ Blossom ... Problems and Provocations offers a free-thinking model for artists and arts foundations — one far beyond support money and/or space."

 
Rosemarie Fiore, process view,  Scrambler Drawing , 2004. Acrylic on vinyl, 60 x 60 ft.

Rosemarie Fiore, process view, Scrambler Drawing, 2004. Acrylic on vinyl, 60 x 60 ft.