Saturday, July 20, 2013

Check Out Indy Island This summer

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has selected Los Angeles-based artist Rimas K. Simaitis as the 2013 resident of Andrea Zittel’s Indy Island at The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres. Simaitis’s residency titled Island Fever will premiere in the Park today (20 July).

Commissioned by the IMA in 2010, Indy Island is a fully habitable experimental living structure that examines the daily needs of contemporary human beings, and explores the tensions between autonomy, independence and individualism. Simaitis's project Island Fever will allow park visitors to communicate with the island through an on-shore radio that will transmit signal to the Zittel structure by way of two smaller, floating satellite islands. The smaller, outlying islands will be equipped with an audio system designed to create vibrations and ripples in the water so visitors hear and see their messages travel across the lake to Indy Island. Simaitis will prompt visitors to reflect on cosmic relationships and diplomacy at an onshore phone booth, and to transmit their messages through the radio system in order to initiate contact.

During Simaitis's residency, Indy Island will be outfitted with a HAM radio station, a radio-telescope constructed from a beach umbrella and an empty pineapple can, a variety of antennas, and a radio spectrograph. He will use the spectrograph to capture images of the transmissions that will be shared on the Indy Island blog, At scheduled times Simaitis will invite visitors to the island in order to transmit their messages into outer space, listen for signals from extraterrestrials, and to try and communicate with amateur radio operators around the world and satellites orbiting Earth, such as the International Space Station.

“The term 'island fever' was traditionally used to describe the sensation of isolation and restlessness often felt by the inhabitants of island nations; but now, as islands have become destinations of escape for tourists, the term 'island fever' has taken on a new, contrasting meaning,” Simaitis said. “My residency on Indy Island is meant to explore this mixed feeling by providing a sense of isolation on an island well-equipped with its own means of escape. My intention for this project is not only to escape the island, but to reach out a bit further and enable visitors to do so as well.”

Island Fever is the fourth residency in Indy Island at the Art & Nature Park. The six-week residency allows an artist to enliven the park through the experimental living structure anchored in the Park’s lake. The resident is chosen through an open call for proposals conducted by the IMA. Students and emerging professionals in the fields of art, design and architecture are encouraged to apply. Simaitis was chosen from a pool of more than 150 applicants from around the world.

Rimas K. Simaitis (b. 1983) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. His areas of research have included islands, space and relations between geography and culture. He developed an interest in radio transmissions when learning how Reggae music formed on the island of Jamaica. Due to the proximity of Miami and New Orleans to Jamaica, the island could receive the distinct music being broadcast from these cities. As a newly independent nation in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Jamaican islanders sought to form a new identity through music. Influenced by the radio broadcasts, they first developed an upbeat Ska style, but the hot weather eventually slowed down the tempo so the islanders could dance more comfortably—ultimately creating Reggae.

Simaitis’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara; the New Wight Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles; the Roots & Culture Contemporary Arts Center in Chicago; SOIL in Seattle; and the Boise Art Museum. Simaitis holds an MFA from University of California, Santa Barbara, and two BAs from Seattle University. More information about his work is available on his website.

(Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Museum of Art)

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