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Mar 21, 2018

My Forrest Gumpy Life: The Furthest Light

"Foundations of the Universe" Metaphysical Map detail, by Holmes.
Some years ago I was in Washington DC for an exhibition of my work during which I visited with some old friends. I've known Meg and Harry Ferguson for some years and they've even bought some of my art. They had cooked a nice dinner at their house and we'd talked about our lives and what their kids were up to and I finally got to ask Harry about one of my favorite topics: his work. He has been on the Hubble Telescope team since that marvelous instrument was sent up in the 90's to become the best eye humanity has on the cosmos. I wanted an update of what they're doing with the scope.

He told about an idea they were working on, a project now well-known as Hubble Deep Field, where they found a particularly dark part of the night sky and photographed a tiny patch of it (what amounts to as much as a tennis ball viewed at 100 yards) for several nights in a row. Then they piled the photos on top of each other to see what was there. To everyone's surprise, the field was crammed full of distant galaxies! It must have been my dropped jaw that prompted him to take me up to one of his kid's rooms and crank up a small personal computer with a book-sized screen, as I recall.

He pulled up an image––a white screen with a bunch of faint black dots––and he explained to me what we were looking at: every one of those dots was a distant galaxy, in fact the most distant objects humans had ever seen! I had to pause a moment to take stock of my situation: Here I was, lucky enough to live in a time when humanity had invented and deployed this most amazing eye in all of history, which my friend was in charge of, and which results I was now getting to witness first hand: the most distant, oldest images in the whole universe ever seen by humans! And among the few of those who got to see that first image, I was now one! ...Thank you, Harry.

I recall as a 5-year-old lying on my back in the yard, looking up into the night sky and seeing the light moving across the sky that was the first satelite, Sputnik. I've watched the moon landing on TV and the Chellenger shuttle explosion and now even a guy's private car in space... I've witnessed the whole arc of the space age. It's astonishing to me to live in this particular window in time!

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.