Ander Mikalson & Katie Paterson: Cosmic Rhythm and Bang

Ander Mikalson and Katie Paterson
September 21–December 8, 2023
Curated by Jillian McDonald
The Simons Center Gallery
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 9, 2023, 5:00 pm
5:00 pm: Reception, Simons Center Gallery and SCGP Lobby
5:30-6:30 pm: Artist Talk by Ander Mikalson, SCGP room 102
Title: “Score for the Big Bang”
Abstract: The talk will focus on the artists’ collaboration with scientists and composers to create the composition “Score for the Big Bang.” 20-30 minute talk followed by a Q&A

The Simons Center for Geometry and Physics (SCGP) is pleased to present the exhibition COSMIC RHYTHM and BANG featuring artwork by Ander Mikalson and Katie Paterson, curated by Jillian McDonald.

Several major artworks by Ander Mikalson (born 1983, American) and Katie Paterson (born 1981, Scottish) will be on view in the gallery—work that represents the result of rigorous research and collaborations beyond the field of visual art. Inspired by the cosmos, their work exemplifies human connection to astronomical data through choral music, timekeeping, poetry, and miniature explosions. Mikalson and Patterson are artists who endeavor to translate scientific concepts into artistic productions that are at once beautiful, skillfully crafted, and rich with poetic and philosophical significance.

Ander Mikalson’s art on view includes the eight-minute Score for A Big Bang featuring speculative sounds the cataclysmic Big Bang might have generated, in the form of a musical score. The composition and performance are sparce, highlighting choral voices and a pipe organ to sonify the 13.8-billion-year-old Big Bang event that scientists have theorized. The resulting concert, held in a church, is documented in a short film accompanied by two meticulous hand-drawn scores. Both parts of the work contain delicate human touches, humor, and a whimsical quality that underscores much of the artist’s oeuvre. Score for a Big Bang was created with the collaboration of Dr. Mark Whittle, Professor of Astronomy at The University of Virginia and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Caroline Shaw.
Based in New York, Mikalson holds a B.A. from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara (2005) and an M.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University (2012).

Katie Paterson has three works on display. In Time Pieces (Solar System), nine clocks keep the times on our solar system’s planets and Earth’s moon. Time is not fixed but depends on celestial rhythms, and the durations of the day range from planet to planet. The Earth’s clock completes its day cycle in 24 hours, while Mercury’s day—the longest—clocks 4,223 hours. 100 Billion Suns is an event recorded in photographs in which confetti cannons, each containing 3,216 pieces of confetti, fired colorful paper explosions during the 2011 Venice Biennale, representing Gamma Ray Bursts, the brightest explosions in the universe that can burn as bright as 100 billions times as our Sun. And Ideas is an ongoing project that the artist began in 2015, with short poetic lines cut in silver that are ideas for varied projects. Collectively they form a glimpse into the artist’s conceptual stream and a dream of cosmic possibility.
Paterson is a Fife-based visual artist from Glasgow, Scotland, having previously lived and worked in Berlin whose artworks concern translation, distance, and scale. She holds a BA from Edinburgh College of Art (2004) and an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art (2007); she is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Edinburgh (2013).

Jillian McDonald is a Canadian artist, professor and curator living in Brooklyn and Troy, NY. She exhibits her video, performance, and drawings widely, participates in numerous artist residencies, is a Professor of Art at Pace University in New York City, co-founded the new media art space Pace Digital Gallery in 2003, and has curated exhibitions at Pace University and beyond.