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Out of this World: UFO and Space Art

In recent months, I’ve been taking note of artists who create work about the cosmos and the possibility of aliens. In Houston alone, there have been shows by Rebecca Marino, MPA, Hillerbrand+Magsamen, and Yayoi Kusama, just to name a few. As far as Texas-based artists or recent Texan exhibitions are concerned, I could go on.

Of course, this isn’t a new thing: artists, and people in general, have always been interested in the potential of outer space. It was unreachable for so long—we only landed on the moon 47 years ago. A deep interest in aliens is so much a part of our culture that we have movie after movie (not to mention television, novels, comic books…) enthralling us with stories of other worlds and extraterrestrial life. In fact, earlier this year, the CIA released hundreds of documents about UFO sightings, including instructions on How To Investigate a Flying Saucer.

It will likely be a long time before we know exactly what’s out there in terms of intelligent life. Voyager 1 was released in 1977 and only entered interstellar space in 2012. It is currently a little over 12 billion miles from Earth. For reference, the closest star system to our planet is Alpha Centauri, which is 4.37 light years away (that’s about 25 trillion miles).

I’m happy that artists here and elsewhere, past and present, have so often looked upwards, past the clouds, and into the outer reaches of space for inspiration. And until a UFO lands on our planet or Voyager runs into something (or someone) surprising, we won’t know which artists are actually on to something.

 

Dario Robleto, The Dismantled Sun, 2012

Dario Robleto, The Dismantled Sun, 2012

 

Tom Sachs, Apollo LEM, 2007

Tom Sachs, Apollo LEM, 2007

 

Rebecca Marino, Daylight Disc (CE – I)

Rebecca Marino, Daylight Disc (CE – I)

 

Hillerbrand+Magsamen, Higher Ground

Hillerbrand+Magsamen, Higher Ground

 

Alex Paulus, That seems not right

Alex Paulus, That seems not right

 

Yayoi Kusama, Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, 2009

Yayoi Kusama, Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, 2009

 

Bill Davenport, The Birth and Death of the Sun, 2000

Bill Davenport, The Birth and Death of the Sun, 2000

 

David Shrigley

David Shrigley

 

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889

 

MPA, Mars, 2014-15

MPA, Mars, 2014-15

 

Edward Ruscha Space, 1971

Edward Ruscha, Space, 1971

 

Esther Pearl Watson, L'UFO Nella Campo Di Grano, 2014

Esther Pearl Watson, L’UFO Nella Campo Di Grano, 2014

 

Max Ernst, Birth Of A Galaxy, 1969

Max Ernst, Birth Of A Galaxy, 1969

 

German Miniaturist, Astronomicum Caesareum, 1540

German Miniaturist, Astronomicum Caesareum, 1540

 

Debra Barrera, Ballute

Debra Barrera, Ballute

 

Daniel Johnston, Space Ducks

Daniel Johnston, Space Ducks

 

Cody Ledvina, White Kid and Black Kid Pass an Alien, 2012

Cody Ledvina, White Kid and Black Kid Pass an Alien, 2012

 

Ionel Talpazan, Astronomy 2 Galaxies and Reverse, 1997

Ionel Talpazan, Astronomy 2 Galaxies and Reverse, 1997

 

Johannes Vermeer, The Astronomer, c. 1668

Johannes Vermeer, The Astronomer, c. 1668

 

JooYoung Choi

JooYoung Choi

 

Karl Wirsum, Alien Dating Service Portrait

Karl Wirsum, Alien Dating Service Portrait

 

Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate, 2006

Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate, 2006

 

Kevin McNamee-Tweed, Rocks

Kevin McNamee-Tweed, Rocks

 

Matthew Ronay, Black Planet In Blood Nebula, 2014

Matthew Ronay, Black Planet In Blood Nebula, 2014

 

Nick Bontrager & Emily Link, Space Puppet Relay Team

Nick Bontrager & Emily Link, Space Puppet Relay Team

 

Scott Winterrowd, Pluto, 2015

Scott Winterrowd, Pluto, 2015

 

Sean Starwars, Last Licks

Sean Starwars, Last Licks

 

René Magritte, The Voice of Space, 1928

René Magritte, The Voice of Space, 1928

 

Misaki Kawai, Universal Telecom, 2008

Misaki Kawai, Universal Telecom, 2008

 

Vija Celmins, Night Sky #18, 1998

Vija Celmins, Night Sky #18, 1998

also by Brandon Zech
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1 Response

  1. “Man keeps looking for a truth that fits his reality, but given his reality, the truth doesn’t fit.”–Werner Erhard.

    Through the work of Carl Munck, I’ve come to recognize that we live on someone’s planetary scale art installation. We have never been alone.

    He took the arbitrarily assigned prime meridian at Greenwich and placed it over the apex of the Great Pyramid at Giza. When he did this, the pyramid structures (and large earthworks) on the planet came into focus–they Geo-locate themselves mathematically in the grid matrix of longitude and latitude.

    This is the first of a series of three. The Code by Carl Munck: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw9lTB0hTNU

    FAIR WARNING: This guy has the production values of a pipe smoking, pocket protected mathematician using 70’s era media. They improve somewhat over time. Well worth the slog.

    Everything we “know” is wrong. Our cosmological system is almost 14 billion years old. The anthropological narratives we created epitomize our hubris. We have never been alone. Here is an ITN segment, courtesy of NASA’s Spirit rover, featuring OUR art on Mars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5lnavfxZWo

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