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Michael Oatman: all utopias fell

  • Exhibition

  • On view seasonally
  • The Speedway

Closed for the season, reopens May 2017

all utopias fell is a project in three parts: The Shining, The Library of the Sun, and Codex Solis.

The Shining is a 1970s-era satellite that has seemingly just crash-landed. This gleaming, re-purposed Airstream trailer—with large parachutes and active solar panels—is, according to the artist, inspired by an earlier era of pulp aeronauts such as Buck Rogers, Tom Swift, and Tom Corbett: Space Cadet, as well as the works of Giotto, Jules Verne, NASA, and Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jetée.

Michael OatmanMichael Oatman, all utopias fell, 2010

Intrepid visitors can climb a staircase through the Boiler House and enter the craft where they will encounter The Library of the Sun. Hybridizing a domestic space, a laboratory, and a library, this tight environment has the feel of a hermitage, where the occupant will “be right back,” only it is now 30 years later. Videos relating to the sun and its mythology flicker to life on the cockpit’s instrumentation panels.

Once inside the craft, visitors will be able to view Codex Solis, a massive field of photovoltaic (PVs) or solar panels. At 50kw, the field generates 3% of the power consumed by MASS MoCA. Within this 230-foot long grid, mirrors are interspersed in the middle of the field, the reflective gaps suggesting an absent text. The arrangement of mirrors and solar panels is based on a specific quote by an unnamed author, and will not be revealed by the artist; instead the public will be encouraged to spend time with the piece, watch the reflected sky, and solve the riddle as birds and planes, inverted, fly by.

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