Modern-day Temple Hunter to Visit UNM

Modern-day Temple Hunter to Visit UNM

John Gerrard to Speak About Digitally Recreating Modern Sacred Spaces

As 21st century people, we, perhaps subconsciously, accept that there are structures propping up our lives.

But where are they? What do they look like? And why are they so hard to find?

These are questions that artist John Gerrard will likely pose during his lecture at the University of New Mexico on March 1.

Gerrard is a modern-day temple hunter, searching for the hidden loci of power and sustenance in our vast, bustling world. But he doesn’t enter these places, these data farms and solar plants and military exercises tucked deep in the pockets of uninhabited land.

No, he wouldn’t even be allowed to.

Instead he recreates them, digitally, and sends an imaginary camera around them like a planet orbiting the sun.

He projects this trajectory onto a massive canvas, which remains up day and night, displaying a real-time recreation of the subject.

If this all sounds a bit hard to understand (a fault of yours truly, perhaps), fear not: Gerrard will be displaying examples of his work during his lecture.

One of these will be Gerrard’s most recent piece, titled “Solar Reserve,” which shows a solar field in Tonopah, Nevada. As the sun travels overhead, in real time, the solar panels follow, and the camera floats around and over the field, keeping the central power bank, a massive white tower with a glowing tip, in the center. From the sky, it looks like a Zen mandala made of living crystals.

These religious equivalencies are subtle yet unavoidable when looking at this work. It’s a spiritual calm that transcends denomination and seems to get at the root of human spirituality. It is no accident, then, that his subjects are always related to new, secular vessels of power: electricity, internet, industry, military might and agriculture. The question then, is, do these new churches rely on us, or do we rely on them?

John Gerrard speaks in UNM’s Garcia Honda Auditorium March 1, from 6 to 7 p.m.

For more information about the lecture, click here.

For more on John Gerrard, click here.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.