The Academy of Saturn

Craighead, A. 2018. The Academy of Saturn. Cooley Gallery, Reed College, Portland, USA

CreatorsCraighead, A.
CollaboratorsThomson, J.
Description

The Cooley Gallery is proud to present a solo exhibition by celebrated UK artist-collaborators Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead. Since the mid-1990s, Thomson & Craighead have explored the visual, statistical, and poetic nature of networked information and its relationship to capitalism, war, and everyday life. The title of the exhibition—The Academy of Saturn—derives from Voltaire’s 1752 novella Micromégas, in which colossal astral travelers from The Academy of Saturn visit earth and engage in a philosophical discussion with a group of scientists. Radical scale shifts of knowledge and comprehension result in an absurd, zero-sum exchange between the species; however, the story is an acerbic parable about the inanity of war and the value of external perspective. With kindred tenacity and wit, Thomson & Craighead explore global information’s competing—and increasingly intertwined—experiences of intimacy and incomprehensibility, touching information to be here now. Distillation, order, and observation take different forms throughout the exhibition. The monumental Horizon (2009–present), for instance, comprises a grid of real-time webcam images from every time zone in the world. In Thomson’s words: “The result is a constantly updating array of images that read like a series of movie storyboards, but also as an idiosyncratic global electronic sundial.” As Horizon conjoins time and space in axial form, it amplifies the lyricism of each circadian landscape. Thomson & Craighead also snare and repurpose networked information in material form, often working with ongoing streams of personal utterance. For The Academy of Saturn, the artists are creating a new iteration of their text-based project London Wall (2010–present), entitled, appropriately, Portland Wall. The work is based on public “status updates” posted on Twitter and Facebook in a three-mile radius from the Cooley. The texts are transformed into graphic posters and installed onto the walls of the gallery, forming a vast meander of endlessly readable concrete poetry—fleeting thoughts, arrested and echoed in their community of origin. Perhaps the artists’ most alchemical work—Apocalypse (2016)—atomizes the King James Bible’s account of the horrors of the End Times in the form of a luxury perfume (developed in collaboration with Edinburgh perfumer Euan McCall). The project was inspired by Master Bertram von Minden’s fifteenth-century altarpiece depicting forty-five scenes from the Book of Revelations (housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London). The artists determined Apocalypse’s olfactory notes by calculating the number of times a given substance, such as “blood” or “flesh,” is mentioned in the text. Thomson & Craighead’s interest in the found poetry of historical narrative and networked culture speaks to artistic forms such as the Oulipo movement founded in the 1960s. Oulipo artists constructed their work using patterned constraints such as palindromes and the S+7 technique, in which each noun in a text is replaced with the seventh noun that follows it in the dictionary. In Thomson & Craighead’s sculpture Here (2011–present, also produced in a new iteration for the Cooley) a regulation street sign displays the distance the sign exists from itself if pointing in the direction of the North or South pole. Like a palindrome, the work encapsulates its own unidirectional movement: physical geography tuned to the logic of networked space.

Date02 Feb 2018
Image creditReed College
KeywordsThomson & Craighead, Cooley Gallery, The Academy of Saturn, Corruption, Apocalyse,
Web address (URL)https://events.reed.edu/event/thomson_craighead_the_academy_of_saturn#.XZs0ZmbTWUk

Related outputs

Anytime Now
Craighead, A. 2018. Anytime Now. TENT Rotterdam, Holland

The Internet of Living Things
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2018. The Internet of Living Things. in: Kholeif, Omar (ed.) I Was Raised on the Internet Prestel Publishing. pp. 244

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Craighead, A. 2017. Life Time - Biological Clocks of the Universe. MU Eindhoven

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Craighead, A. 2017. Humans Being Digital. The Lowry, Salford

Hybrid Landscapes
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2017. Hybrid Landscapes. Digital Catapult, London

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Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2017. Wake me up when it's over. Young Projects Gallery, Pacific Design Centre, West Hollywood, LA

I Want! I Want!: Art & Technology
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2017. I Want! I Want!: Art & Technology. Birmingham Museum

Recruitment Gone Wrong @ The New Observatory
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2017. Recruitment Gone Wrong @ The New Observatory. Fact, Liverpool,UK

Monsters Of the Machine
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2016. Monsters Of the Machine. LaBoral, Gijion, Spain

The Story
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2016. The Story. The Story.

Stutterer
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2016. Stutterer. The Sanger Institute, Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge

Perpetual Uncertainty
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2016. Perpetual Uncertainty. Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden

Nuclear Material Culture
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2016. Nuclear Material Culture. Karst, Plymouth

Big Bang Data
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2016. Big Bang Data. Somerset House, London

Real Time: Art en temps real
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2016. Real Time: Art en temps real. Arts Santa Monica, Barcelona

Party Booby Trap
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2016. Party Booby Trap. Carroll / Fletcher, London

Electronic Superhighway (2016 – 1966)
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2016. Electronic Superhighway (2016 – 1966). Whitechapel Gallery, London

Tecnologies de la violència
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2016. Tecnologies de la violència. Arts Santa Monica, Barcelona, Spain

Artist Use of Open Data
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2015. Artist Use of Open Data. Open Data Institute summit 2015. BFI Southbank 03 Nov 2015 Open Data Institute.

Hello World
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2015. Hello World. Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, UK Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, UK.

Art in the age of asymmetrical ... warfare
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2015. Art in the age of asymmetrical ... warfare. Witte de With, Rotterdam, London

Right Here Right Now
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2015. Right Here Right Now. The Lowry, Salford

Data as Culture 3: Data Anthropologies
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2015. Data as Culture 3: Data Anthropologies. Open Data Institute, London

Maps DNA and Spam
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2014. Maps DNA and Spam. Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee

Flat Earth
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2014. Flat Earth. Germany MEWO Kunsthalle and Dundee Contemporary Arts.

Never Odd or Even: Thomson & Craighead
Craighead, A., Thomson, J. and Auerbach, D. Stevenson, D. (ed.) 2013. Never Odd or Even: Thomson & Craighead. London Carroll/Fletcher.

Never Odd or Even
Craighead, A. and Thomson, J. 2013. Never Odd or Even. Carroll / Fletcher Gallery, London

October
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2012. October. Brighton

Belief
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2012. Belief. InSpace Gallery, Edinburgh

Short Film about War
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2010. Short Film about War. Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Oldenburg, Germany

London Wall
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2010. London Wall. United Kingdom

Several Interruptions: Web commission for the relaunch of The Arts Council of England website
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2009. Several Interruptions: Web commission for the relaunch of The Arts Council of England website.

Horizon & BEACON
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2009. Horizon & BEACON. Dundee Contemporary Arts, United Kingdom

Beacon; Horizon
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2009. Beacon; Horizon. Dundee Contemporary Arts

Unprepared piano
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2008. Unprepared piano. Eyebeam NY

Thomson-Craighead at Studion
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2008. Thomson-Craighead at Studion. Stockholm, Sweden

My contacts; Signals; Flat Earth
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2008. My contacts; Signals; Flat Earth. Cube Exhibition

Flipped clock
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2008. Flipped clock.

Flat Earth
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2008. Flat Earth. Newcastle

Decorative news feeds; beacon
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2008. Decorative news feeds; beacon. Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Decorative news feeds
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2008. Decorative news feeds.

Beacon
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2008. Beacon.

Short films about flying
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2007. Short films about flying. Laboral Art and Industrial Creation Centre, Gijon, Spain

Beacon
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2005. Beacon. Tate Modern, London

e-poltergeist
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2001. e-poltergeist. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

CNN Interactive just got more interactive
Thomson, J. and Craighead, A. 2001. CNN Interactive just got more interactive. Tate Britain, London

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