Extraterrestrial Abstract Art Detected By Radiotelescope
Conceptual Artist Jonathon Keats to Curate First Intergalactic Art Exposition for START MOBILE
SAN FRANCISCO – Dec. 20, 2005 - Concluding centuries of speculation about extraterrestrial intelligence, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats has discovered that a radio signal detected by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico contains artwork broadcast from deep space. Initially dismissed by researchers as meaningless, the transmission -- which originated between the constellations Aries and Pisces thousands of years ago -- may be the most significant addition to the artistic canon since the Mona Lisa, or even the Venus of Willendorf.
Painstakingly decoded and converted into digital images by Mr. Keats, the artwork can now be seen on the planet’s most ubiquitous exhibition platform, currently in the hands of one third of the world population: the cellphone. Distributed through a special agreement with pioneering mobile art gallery StartMobile.net -- the images are now available in an unlimited edition for download as cellphone wallpaper.
“It’s the ultimate outsider art,” notes Mr. Keats. “Historically our culture has ignored extraterrestrial artistic expression. As curator of the First Intergalactic Art Exposition, my job is to make it available to everyone.”
START MOBILE founder John Doffing is fully committed to this mission. “START MOBILE is dedicated to the promotion of underground expression, including graffiti + street art,” he says. “Scattered through space for anyone to see, perhaps what Jonathon has discovered is in actuality some manner of COSMIC GRAFFITI.”
The discovery of artwork from beyond the solar system did not come as a surprise to Mr. Keats, who has written about outsider art often as the art critic for San Francisco Magazine.
“It’s a familiar story,” he says. “Scientists expect intelligent life elsewhere in the universe to behave just like them. Since scientists are mathematical, they expect extraterrestrials to broadcast Boyle’s Law or the Pythagorean theorem.”
Mr. Keats began seriously to question the wisdom of these assumptions while conducting independent research earlier this year. "If I were an
extraterrestrial trying to communicate with beings elsewhere in the universe, I certainly wouldn’t transmit something they already knew,“ he argues. ”I’d try to express something about myself, as profound as possible, in the most universal language I could imagine: I’d send art"
From this novel perspective, Mr. Keats reviewed one of the most promising candidate signals formerly dismissed by astronomers, SHGb02+14a. By using radio frequency to determine color, and time signature to determine orientation, he discovered that patterns
incomprehensible scientifically were in fact extraterrestrial abstract artwork.
Sources close to Mr. Keats indicate that the START MOBILE project is only the beginning for intergalactic art, hinting that preliminary
discussions about exhibiting extraterrestrial abstract artwork in major cultural institutions are already underway.
“While it’s too soon to predict how this work will change our understanding of intergalactic diversity, or the commonality of intelligent life everywhere, I believe that ongoing interplanetary exchange is crucial,” Mr. Keats argues, urging people to purchase extraterrestrial abstract artwork as cellphone wallpaper -- at a cost of $1.99 per download -- and vowing that the money will be put to good use: One percent of all proceeds will be set aside in a special fund to compensate extraterrestrial artists for their contribution to world culture, and an additional one tenth of one percent will be used to establish a satellite museum, orbiting Earth, to broadcast terrestrial artwork throughout the cosmos.
Represented by Modernism Gallery in San Francisco, Jonathon Keats is known for his pragmatic approach to art. Most recently, he personalized the metric system. He has also previously attempted to genetically engineer God in a petri dish, in collaboration with researchers at the University of California, and petitioned Berkeley to pass a fundamental law of logic -- A=A -- a work commissioned by the city’s annual Arts Festival.
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