Friday, March 23, 2012

Jonathon Keats

Jonathon Keats started his conceptual art career when he was only six years old by selling stones. 24 years later he makes his first official representation by selling his thoughts in an art gallery. What inspired him to become an artist was to use art as a new way of approaching philosophy. His following projects all remained faithful to this spirit, and he is now known for conceiving large scale thought experiments. His study consists of mind-boggling pieces, each one crazier than the other, like copyrighting his own brain as a sculpture, trying to genetically engineer God in a laboratory, creating the First Bank of Antimatter , trying to generate an apiarian choreography... As well as being a conceptual artist and an experimental philosopher, Jonathon Keats is also a novelist and essayist. His latest novel “The book of the Unknown” won the Sophie Brody Medal by the American Library Association in 2011. He also writes for many different magazines and newspapers on various subjects such as science, culture, art, architecture, design and literature. However his high productivity doesn’t stop here; he also authored museum catalogue essays and monographs. One of his latest and most absurd experiments is producing pornography for God, which consists in simulating scale-down Big Bang conditions. He argues that it will incite God to create new universes as our own was condemned to cosmic expansion...

Now let us focus on two of his many puzzling artworks. In 2008, Jonathon Keats choreographed a honeybee ballet for the Yerba Buena center of Arts in San Francisco. This seems rather curious and knowing some basic facts about bees would be helpful to understand the conceptual piece of art of this unusual artist. Honeybees need pollen to produce honey and to communicate information about places where flowers or blossom are. In order to indicate to their fellow beings the location of plentiful gardens they perform complex air choreographies. The performance is held within the hive and the ballet is a private “bee to bee” representation, human beings are not supposed to be spectators of the dances and can only imagine them thus the art lies in our mind as much as in the hives.

Another eccentric invention of Jonathon Keats is The First Bank of Antimatter. He developed a new currency based on antimatter stocked in the bank’s vault. For 10 dollars customers will get 10,000 positrons, for 100 dollars they will have 100,000 positrons. These positrons will be produced by the decay of radioactive potassium. By creating this bank, Keats criticizes the materialistic society and adds "We've confused money, which essentially is a means of transaction, with what is transacted. Therefore, we have come to place value on money on its own right as if it were one of the things transacted”. Since positrons are destroyed when they come into contact with matter the “positron bank notes” can never be swapped for the object that gives them value. They will be used for the need of transaction only and not for the money itself, and to make us aware of the difference between our form of currency and the things we obtain with that currency.

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