It is a blistering day in Los Angeles and I’m thinking about the light and space movement of the 1960s—the way light is handled as a simultaneously phenomenal and distilled medium: Helen Pashigan’s aqueous holographic portals, Judy Chicago’s fogged domes, Peter Alexander’s cloud boxes, Robert Irwin’s ghostly scrims. Southern California’s crisped or smogged sky animates the direction of the movement’s attitude—glass, neon, fluorescent, resin, metal, wind, earth and sky. A sweet spot between the zen and the techno-organic.
A lot has changed since those apertures for reframing light, land and space were conceived. Smartphones, The Human Genome Project, The Hadron Collider—beloved Perseverance’s successful trip to Mars streams in real-time, as I write.
It is a blistering day in Los Angeles, and I’ll probably never get used to this heat. Our bodies consume light habitually, necessarily, and with pleasure. The summer solstice has rolled through. A reminder that our body measures an entangled relationship with its ecology.
If there wasn’t enough copper in our blood, we’d lose the ability to see color. Stomach acid is so robust it can dissolve metal. If all the iron in our body were collected, we’d get a small cog, just large enough to hold together a wristwatch. Within the variations of a green-religion that either stewards or devastates the planet, our bodies, landscapes and machines unwearyingly point to this enmeshment.
It’s a blistering day in Los Angeles, I, in fact, have blisters, and I’m thinking about The End. In speculative science fiction, like in Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 Stalker or in Jeff Vanddermeer’s Annihilation, “The Zone” or “The Shimmer” refer to a bordered land, warped and cut off, acknowledging very real, very hellish ecological events of this planet: Chernobyl, the BP oil spill, COVID-19.
Matter takes on uncanny forms. A shell becomes a sea, a blade of grass, a field. Materials are malleable and talismans are charged, manipulating the fabric of their environment.
To navigate them, we use bewitched gifts; The Lasso of Truth in Wonder Woman, The Auryn Medallion in The Never Ending Story, or even the Universal Remote Control in the Adam Sandler classic, Click.
The index finger in palmistry is known as the Jupiter Finger—the guiding finger, or teacher, the one we point with, point to. It’s -234 degrees on Jupiter right now, a kind of cold that must burn. Do we name things to make faraway things closer, to bring what’s there, here?
It’s a blistering day in Los Angeles and Midnight the dog is eating ice cubes.
Jupiter Finger offers a crude yet salutary perspective for considering the visual language of our ecological moment, our psycho-astronomical rituals and this fleshy yet bionic posturing or surrendering, to a body and landscape in perpetual apocalypse. Targets for self reflection, eco-memoirs, portals, shields, scents, bells and renderings of light—here there are ensorcelled objects, works that speak from and to “the zone.”