50 years ago Apollo 11 traveled to the moon. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent 21 hours 31 minutes on the lunar surface at a site they named Tranquility Base. Track 16 is presenting Tranquility, the first series of Apollo 11 recordings that Paul Ramirez Jonas transferred onto wax cylinders. The artist rebuilt Thomas Edison’s first phonograph then used it to record onto 398 green wax cylinders (each containing about a minute of sound), the initial six and one-half hours of the first manned mission to the moon in 1969. He has transcribed history into a more analog medium of the past. The phonograph, being one of the major inventions of the 19th century, is combined with one of the most historical feats of the 20th century. The Guggenheim's biography of him is anchored with this: "His practice is characterized by a bracing, albeit nostalgic, idealism rooted in a faith in human resilience. Sensitive to the processes of globalization, he reveals its simultaneous tendencies towards interdependence and exclusion."
Statement by the artist:
"Since 1990, I have been casting wax cylinders that I record onto with my home made replica of Edison’s first sound recording machine. I am re-recording the audio communication of the 23 hours men spent on the Moon during their first mission on July 20 and 21, 1969. Each wax record can hold on average 60 seconds of sound. Each cylinder is indexed to the second; and its contents are transcribed onto a ‘lyrics’ book. Many of the recordings contain static and silence. The project is broken into 4 sections Tranquility finished in 1992, EVA finished in 1996, Rest Period finished in 1998. The last segment is yet to be made."
Paul Ramírez Jonas selected solo exhibitions include Pinacoteca do Estado, Sao Paulo, Brazil; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; a survey at Ikon Gallery (UK) and Cornerhouse (UK). He has been included in group exhibitions at P.S.1 (NYC); the Brooklyn Museum; The Whitechapel (UK); Irish Museum of Modern Art (Ireland); The New Museum (NYC); and Kunsthaus Zurich (Switzerland). He participated in the 1st Johannesburg Biennale; the 1st Seoul Biennial; the 6th Shanghai Biennial; the 28th Sao Paulo Biennial; the 53rd Venice Biennial; and the 7th Bienal do Mercosul , Porto Alegre, Brazil. In 2010 his Key to the City project was presented by Creative Time in cooperation with the City of New York. In 2016 his Public Trust project was presented by Now & There in Boston. The Contemporary Art Museum Houston is organizing a 25 year survey of his work to be presented in 2017. He is currently an Associate Professor at Hunter College, City University of New York CUNY.