Paul Ramírez Jonas
Artist in the Public Realm

Electrical Disturbances Apparently of Extraterrestial Origin, 1995


MATERIALS: Wood, copper pipe, short wave radio, video.

    This is a remake of an object and a re-enactment of a discovery. It is also an attempt at finding a commonality between history and phenomena. The object is a functioning reproduction of an experiment by Dr. Karl Jansky in 1936 - 1938. Jansky built a large antenna and listened to static for two years - in order to determine its origin. He concluded that the static was emitted by the stars - and thus the radio telescope came to be. A modest investment of materials at the store and time at the library allows anyone to rebuild this attractive and significant object. Although the past is ultimately irretrievable, phenomena is immutable, thus this object's function is preserved.
    The relation to the past is further complicated by the fact that the static being listened to is literally from the past - for it takes years from the moment that the stars emit these waves until they reach us.