Poet and visual artist Jen Bervin’s multidisciplinary work results from research and collaboration with artists and specialists ranging from& literary scholars to material scientists to activate the intersections of art and scholarship, text and textiles, science, technology, and craft in works that range from poems written nanoscale to large-scale museum installations.
Long before the discovery of the first planet beyond our solar system, astronomer Laurance Doyle began theorizing about the habitability of planets around other stars, clarifying the conditions needed for a planet to bear life.
Jill Tarter received her Bachelor of Engineering Physics Degree with Distinction from Cornell University and her Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Cosmic Static, a sonic installation by Fayen d'Evie and Jen Bervin, with sound artists Bryan Phillips and Andy Slater, experiments with the dynamics of 'cosmic eavesdropping', combining a repurposed sculptural radio telescope feed from one of SETI’s arrays with ultrasonic projections of field recordings from telescope arrays, antennae farms, and stories of individuals dedicated to listening for extraterrestrial signals, including scientists Grote Reber, Laurance Doyle, and Jim Palfreyman. As the audience moves within and around the ultrasonic beams, encountering discrete phrases at some moments and wandering into polyphonic disturbance at others, each body listens in on a different poetics and collectively activates the kinaesthetics of close listening in community.
The stories encountered in Cosmic Static include narratives from Grote Reber, the founder of modern radio astronomy, who listened to radio emissions from space alone for over a decade before the nascent field coalesced. Reber built the first parabolic antenna in his backyard in Illinois in 1937, and in 1954, moved to Tasmania—where the ionospheric density is low—to listen to the quieter southern skies using interconnected wires and dipoles in sheep grazing lands. The work also traces the research of SETI astrophysicist Laurance Doyle, who studies the language complexity and signal transmissions of non-human species—from plant-insect communications, to monkey whistling and baby dolphin babbling—to develop methods of discerning intelligent extraterrestrial signals amidst the galactic noise.
Fayen d’Evie and Jen Bervin collaborated with sound artists Bryan Phillips and Andy Slater, scientists Laurance Doyle, Jim Palfreyman, Jon Richards, and Jill Tarter. Special thanks to SETI Institute, SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array, Liquid Architecture, Melbourne University Law School, the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the Grote Reber Museum at the University of Hobart’s Mt Pleasant Radio Observatory, A Published Event, and the Monash University Curatorial Programme for assistance in realizing Cosmic Static.
Jen Bervin: Shift Rotate Reflect, Selected Works (1997–2020) curated by Kendra Paitz University Galleries of Illinois State University | August 15 through December 13, 2020.
Shift Rotate Reflect, the first survey of work by American poet and artist Jen Bervin, presents twenty-three solo and collaborative projects created from 1997–2020, including the project premiere of Su Hui’s Picture of the Turning Sphere, a multi-channel video and textile installation in collaboration with Charlotte Lagarde.