Museum of Craft and Design San Francisco
This world premiere exhibition, created by the art+tech team, Bull.Miletic, is the culmination of a seven-year artistic research project focused on the recent surge in aerial, moving-image technologies. During this research, the artist duo identified the emergence of a new, visual paradigm for which they have invented the descriptive words: proxistance (noun) and proxistant (adjective). Most prominently exemplified by Google Earth’s “digital ride” from a global perspective to street level view, a proxistant vision names this combination of proximity and distance in a single, moving capture.
The artists argue that, although proxistance existed in the margins for centuries, it has come to occupy center stage in our time with advancements in digital zooming and surveillance infrastructure such as satellites, remote-sensing operations, and drone cameras.
Bull.Miletic believes the desire for and ability to create proxistant visions is a paradigm shift in the centuries old practice of mapping the Earth. The result is a renewed, global “model,” powerfully contributing to an alteration in one’s perception of the world. This realization keenly sparked the artists’ interest, and led them to study the driving forces behind this cartographic phenomenon, including its history and lineage.
Presented here for the first time, Bull.Miletic has produced a body of three artworks, Ferriscope, Venetie 11111100110, and Zoom Blue Dot, which are the result of this extensive research project on proxistant vision. Each work has its own focus, but all trace the multiple paths and genealogies of the proxistant (overview to detail) effect. The projects presented explore this “all-seeing” promise across centuries: from the 16th Century’s mapping impulse and old dream of illustrating total visions of our environments, to the invention of the Ferris Wheel in the 19th Century, which broadened the geographic landscape to the naked eye, and on to the 21st Century’s 4 billion mile “zoom” from the Voyager 1 camera in outer space, capturing Earth as a tiny blue dot.
The artists’ ultimate goal was to examine the proxistant paradigm as an indicator of how knowledge, through vision, continues to shift as a result of targeted tracking, surveillance, the exponential increase in aerial imaging, and networked digital infrastructure.
Bull.Miletic’s artworks in this exhibition focus predominantly on a form of proxistant vision associated with the aerial view in motion. Their analysis of the technological operations governing the current paradigm of proxistance is approached through three case studies, pertaining to three imaging machines, operating in three different aerial strata, which constitutes the three-part structure of the exhibition.
The first artwork, Ferriscope, is categorized within the realm of “Grounded Machines,” as this work approaches the mobility inherent in the “ride” from close-up to overview facilitated by giant, urban observation wheels and their operational effects of proxistant visions within the context of urban development.
The second artwork, Venetie 11111100110, is categorized within the realm of “Airborne Machines,” as this work evolved through the logic of navigation, by mapping-out an acrobatic path between proximity and distance, between glitches in Google Earth and a 500-year-old map of Venice.
The third artwork, Zoom Blue Dot, is categorized within the realm of “Orbital Machines,” as this work is concerned with the question of scale. It starts out with the proxistant scaling of the world from the Earth as a speck of dust to the interior of an iPhone.
All the artworks in this exhibition loosely correspond to an imaginary ascent via earthbound, airborne and orbital machines, as well as into layers of mediation from the physical ride to the photographic capture, and eventually, to remote-sensing.
Any viewers of this unique exhibition should become enthralled with Bull.Miletic’s masterful and visionary art+tech production, on the forefront of a contemporary artists’ movement, creatively combining aesthetic creations with recent technological inventions. Proxistant Vision is an innovative endeavor that raises awareness about the impact of new aerial imaging technologies and their influence and power in everyday life.
Curator: Carol Covington