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."
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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!