Flux Exchange: Jonathon Keats
2020 - 2023
In November 2020, Jonathon Keats began a virtual version of our Flux Exchange, exploring our relationship to the Chattahoochee River and engaging with cultural and civic organizations, and educational institutions invested in the future of this significant resource and concerned with climate equity.
Keats’s work in Atlanta connects to projects he is doing on rivers around the world. In each location he seeks to reconnect people to nature and bring awareness to the impact that climate change is having upon the nature world. Central to this work is reconnecting to river time, which Keats proposes as an alternative to standard time. Standard time is measured on atomic clocks, providing a technical basis for global transactions. By contrast, river time is calculated by comparing the current flow of a stream against its long-term historical (11 – 73 year) average flow. If the current flow is faster than the historical average, river time runs faster than standard time, and if the flow is slower than the historical average, river time runs slower. River time will speed up or slow down based upon environmental impacts, many of these manmade. Keats’s hope is understanding natural cycles of a river will encourage us to nurture our environment.
Keats’s Exchange has begun virtually due to COVID, but he will visit Atlanta and present public programs in September.
About the Artist
Acclaimed as a “poet of ideas” by The New Yorker and a “multimedia philosopher-prophet” by The Atlantic, Jonathon Keats is an artist, writer and experimental philosopher based in the United States and Europe. His conceptually-driven transdisciplinary projects explore all aspects of society, adapting methods from the sciences and the humanities. He has exhibited and lectured at dozens of institutions worldwide, from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to Stanford University to the Triennale di Milano, and from SXSW to CERN to UNESCO. He is the author of six books on subjects ranging from science and technology to art and design – most recently You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future, published by Oxford University Press – and is the author of a weekly online art and design column for Forbes. He has been an artist-in residence at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, UC Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station, and the LACMA Art + Technology Lab, a Black Mountain College Legacy Fellow at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, an Imaginary Fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, and a Research Fellow at the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment. He is currently a research associate at the University of Arizona’s Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, a visiting scholar at San Jose State University’s CADRE Laboratory for New Media, a research fellow at the Highland Institute, a consulting philosopher at Earth Law Center, a Polar Lab artist at the Anchorage Museum, a Flux Exchange Artist at Flux Projects, and an artist-in-residence at Hyundai, the SETI Institute, and UC San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center. He co-directs the Center for Climate-Adapted Heritage Cuisine and serves as curatorial director of the Museum of Future History. A monograph about his art, Thought Experiments, was recently published by Hirmer Verlag.
Thought Experiments: The Art of Jonathon Keats
The newest book on Keat’s work is described by publisher Hirmer as follows: Since the turn of the millennium, Keats has comprehensively extended his academic training in philosophy by prolifically presenting conceptual art projects that he refers to as “thought experiments.” These include installations and performances in museums and galleries around the globe. His motivations are to make space for exploring ideas, offering provocations and confronting systems we generally take for granted. By prototyping alternative realities – systematically asking “what if …?” – these projects probe the world in which we live, exploring the potential for societal change.