Thomas Robertello Gallery is pleased to present the fifth installment of Jason Robert Bell's year-long Tetragrammatron Archive: The Orpheus Terminals. The exhibition in the gallery's project space opens Friday December 9, 2011, 6:00-8:00PM and continues through January 21, 2012. The Orpheus Terminals is an audio-visual digital archive of the artist’s consciousness, including 10,000 panoramic photographs taken over the past four years and an accompanying soundtrack of binaural sound compositions.
Presented as a video, the panoramic photographs comprising The Orpheus Terminals are quickly shot with a low-end panoramic feature on Bell's consumer-grade digital camera, capturing the way his mind works and his eye sees. The images chart his travels, triumphs, and the mundanity of daily life. The title Orpheus Terminals comes from a concept Bell’s father shared in bedtime stories read to him as a young child.
Jason Robert Bell graduated from the School of the Art Institute Chicago with a BFA in Painting in 1995, and the Yale School of Art's MFA program in 2000. Bell's paintings, drawings, sculpture, experimental films, outdoor installations, and performances have been exhibited in New York, most recently at Postmasters Gallery and the Fountain Art Fair, Boston, Miami, Washington DC, Baltimore, San Francisco, Tokyo, and many times in Chicago.
The Orpheus Terminals
"Four years ago, I purchased a low end consumer digital camera to document a trip to France. To my surprise I discovered the camera had a panoramic feature.
This wonderful setting allows the user to produce panoramas by taking three conjoined photos in quick order, in an abutting sequences, with a window of 20 seconds between each, to allow the photographer to align the subject in the viewfinder. When I was at the Louvre, testing out the feature, I noticed when the subjects were not correctly lined up, the camera would unexpected distortions in attempt to stitch the disparaging three images into a single panorama. Purposeful conflicts in light exposure between each click, radical shifts in the angle of the shot, and juxtapositions of the subject matter, created images that inexplicitly captured a profoundly poetic in-camera edited photo-collages. The limited pre-set time the camera’s software, of each of the three exposures required an improvisational approach with often surprising outcomes, every panorama was a throw of the dice.
I was able to fleetly produce dozens of images in a single session with the camera, the efforts compounded by cheap battery power and 1 Gigabyte of disk space as my only other technical limitations.
I would lose myself in this process spending hours and countless Double As, each panorama revealed, another new possibility; everything was suitable for these experiments. Before long the photos were numbering in the thousands.
Upon reviewing a session of images on my computer screen, I began creating new panoramas from discoveries in pervious panoramas, mixing all aspects of my existence, dancing together all my past artworks, life experiences, eclectic personal interests, and anything else I could get my feverous lens to gander. These letterboxed straits of visual information became a endless looping chain of ever changing self-generating imagery, It was as if my imagination was being encoded similar to a DNA sequence. I had created a back-up file of my weltanschauung, my way of seeing, the singular sensibility of my soul, if there is such a thing.
Focusing on the surprising distortions discovered in process, I was able to create repeating motifs of recurring personas floating upon interplays of shadow, color, and light, that in total cross a threshold beyond understanding to create an experience that captures the infinite."
Jason Robert Bell
"A story my father told me: The Orpheus Terminals
The ultimate goal of The Orpheus Terminal is the programming of imagery for living cybernetic computer terminals, culled from cloned materials from my brain, which will be placed across the earth, connecting various leylines with Quetzalcabbalahic diagrams of my own design. These terminals will be freely accessed by whoever wishes to use them at any point in time across the universe. The first images anyone will see will be these images of my visual understanding of the universe. The terminals will basically be given one directive: to help humanity live more meaningful lives, to help them to be Heroes, not Slaves.
The Knights Templar was an order of warrior priests that were active during the Middle Ages. After the Crusades, they were killed off by the States and Churches of Europe as heretics. This is believed to have happened because the Knights had gained a great deal of economic power. However, a number of myths and legends have developed around the Knights that are quite interesting. One of the charges against them was that they received their orders from a large disembodied head. The Knights also called themselves The Order of the Golden Fleece, making a direct connection between themselves and the Argonauts of Ancient Greece. Why is this of interest? The Knights were purported to have access to or be in possession of the Holy Grail (an artifact that can heal the sick/ raise the dead). Although it is commonly believed to be a chalice of some sort, the Grail has been depicted in all manner of forms and it is unknown what its true shape might be. The Golden Fleece is also a mythic artifact that could heal the sick. What if these two devices are one and the same? The Golden Fleece was supposed to be the hide of a magical flying ram that was sent to earth by Hermes to do the will of the gods. After its work was done, the ram was sacrificed to Zeus, but its skin was preserved and it was believed to heal the sick and return the dead to life. Orpheus was one of the Argonauts. He was decapitated by a group of feral women, but his head was said to remain alive to this day. Was it his head that dispatched orders to the Knights Templar thousands of years later? The Holy Grail, also called the Sangrail (blood stone), the Lucifer stone, and the Golden Fleece, could actually be myths that have a shared root with an ancient power source of extraterrestrial origin. The Golden Fleece and the Holy Grail could actually be mere containment vessels for this unknown element, which I call Element X, or Grailium. What if the Argonauts were an actual group of plundering adventurers that were exposed to this power source bestowing on them a number of beneficial mutations? Perhaps Orpheus was able to maintain some sort of animation after his body had been destroyed. His brain perhaps became able to produce a Grailium-rich enzyme.
Imagine an element that’s properties allow the human imagination to manifest itself in the physical world. This element could have come to earth in the far-flung past, before humanity was human in the very metros that crashed into the earth and caused catastrophic destruction of the environment, leading to the extinction of the dinosaurs. There could have been an element that infused itself into the earth biosphere. The dinosaurs were killed off by the radiation because their brains were unable to adapt to the element’s energy, but the mammals could. This beneficial radiation allowed mammals to become the masters of the earth, and is the very reason for the Human condition. Perhaps there was another smaller re-introduction of this element later, which caused Neanderthals to transmute into Homo sapiens. It is my belief that Grailium fosters a viable network with the collective human imagination. It causes all our hopes and dreams to come to life.
Grailium could be the explanation for all unexplained phenomena on earth. When an individual is exposed to it in a high degree it could cause a quantum evolutionary leap to occur. Imagine if we were able to synthesize Grailium in a laboratory, expose it to cloned human brain cells, and use it to create living super-computer brains: The Orpheus Terminals. It is my belief that these devices would allow humanity to finally unravel the mysteries of life on this earth and beyond. The use and development of Grailium in technology would usher in the next step in Human Evolution. Humanity would once again have a working system of oracles. If we follow the Hermetic premise that God only exists within the human mind, this project would allow true communion to occur. At last some sort of dialogue with the higher consciousness would be possible, the word of God would be our own voice.
To attain immortality for myself and hopefully all of humanity, I will have myself cryogenically frozen at the moment of my physical death in a Grailium Crystal Thought Pod, placed into a small solar, atomic, and/or Grailium powered rocket ship, and launched into deepest outer space.
The ship, Bellerophon 1, will be equipped with a computer that will have vast archives on human culture and history as well as the history of earth and our solar system, plus as much personal information about myself as possible. There will be digital images of all of my artworks, writings, personal photographs, and belongings. The rocket will have detailed instructions written in a number of codes both numeric and languages, stating who I am, where I come from, and the fact that I would like whomever finds me to use their superior alien technology to restore me to life. To assist my alien benefactors, there will also be a great deal of human anatomy and media information within the ships computer.
There are two schools of thought as to the possible nature of extraterrestrial life. Some people think that we should not be actively seeking out otherworldly life. They think that any race able to travel through the vast reaches of the cosmic void would be so powerful that they would view us as inferior and would not have a problem wiping humanity out of existence. The other group, which I am a part of, believes that any race to conquer the stars would need to have conquered their own barbaric natures to do so and could only be benevolent. Look at ourselves: the tiny baby steps that we have made into space have only come from positive benevolent efforts, actions for all humankind. Only by transcending our baser selves will we ever reach the stars.
Due to the incredibly vast distances of space, humanity may have to toil for eons in order to reach other inhabitable planets, but if I am sent out into space as I have described, perhaps this toil can be cut short.
Once my alien benefactors have revived me, I will act as a delegate for humanity, learning all I can, and beginning a relationship that will usher in a golden age on Earth. Using the aliens’ unimaginable transportation technology, I will return to some distant future earth where I can shake hands with my great great great great great great grandchildren and help all humanity fulfill their dreams. We will become immortal, pan-dimensional, ethical super geniuses that will stand upon an equal ground with the gods of the universe. Every person will shine like a star in the heavens. When what appears to be the final barriers of the universe are before this future human, they will boldly cross it, and go onto what can never be conceived of, but will be experienced." - Jason Robert Bell