ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON,
TRACY WILLIAMS LTD, NEW YORK
16 OCT- 15 NOV 2014
NEW YORK, NY.- Tracy Williams, Ltd. announces Anatomy of a Phenomenon, Peter Stichbury’s third exhibition with the gallery. The show is titled after the computer scientist and astronomer Jacques Vallée’s 1965 book, investigating and appraising data collected on unidentified aerial phenomena from 1947 until 1964. In this exhibition of oil on linen paintings, Stichbury examines the data and culture associated with unidentified aerial phenomena. Japan Airlines, Alaska, 1987, explores a case in which pilot Captain Kenju Terauchi transmitted information of an immense walnut shaped object flanking his flight over Alaska. It and two other objects were tracked on radar from the ground as well as from the plane itself. Terauchi was subsequently grounded. Mona Stafford, based on the famous Stanford Kentucky Abduction case of 1976, considers the three women who claim to have been taken from a quiet Kentucky road by a UFO and examined by its non-human occupants. Harvard Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. John Mack, who studied the controversial area of alien abduction and coined the term ‘experiencers’, was wholly convinced by the veracity of certain abduction claims; however, conflicting interpretations pervade this area of investigation, including assertions of witness confabulation, sleep paralysis, and false memory syndrome. Around 95% of ‘sightings’ emerge as homemade tributes to the genuine phenomena, employing a range of props, from barely visible strings, to digital manipulation to produce an image of a sighting. Multiple factors have derailed widespread scientific investigation into the subject: daily reported hoaxes, the Hollywood-esque portrayal of the subject in cinema and wider popular culture, academic ridicule, and government investigations including the 1968 Condon Report. The resulting demotion of the subject to folklore status leaves behind the flimsy shell of a subject, permeated by half-truths, hoaxes, misidentification and government disinformation, while the truth is pushed further out of reach. General Nathan Twining, Head of U.S. Air Force Materiel Command wrote in The Twining Memo, September 23, 1947, “The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious.” Jacques Vallée agrees that the reality of the phenomenon is undeniable, but posits that its origin may challenge popular interpretations, suggesting it could be inter-dimensional, rather than extra-terrestrial in nature. Other evaluations consider it could be military deep black stealth projects, co-opting UFO folklore to cloak it from public knowledge. Stichbury uses the tension between the eccentric world of ufology and serious academic inquiry to consider more universal human drives: the push to comprehend fully the human species’ place in the universe, to address the perception of isolation, to demystify and quantify the unknown. From these issues emerges the consideration of where absolute truth ultimately lies, amongst motive, memory, and strategic positioning.
PETER STICHBURY: ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON,
NEVADA MUSEUM OF ART
NOVEMBER 5, 2016 - MARCH 26, 2017
New Zealand-based artist Peter Stichbury has created a series of paintings and drawings linked to unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Fascinated by the stories of individuals who claim to have witnessed UFOs and/or extraterrestrials, he explores their motives, objectives, and reliability through portraits and related works. The artworks are informed by his meticulous research. Peter Stichbury: Anatomy of a Phenomenon opened November 5 and will remain on view through May 28, 2017 at the Nevada Museum of Art, Donald W. Reynolds Center for the Visual Arts, E. L. Wiegand Gallery located at 160 West Liberty Street in downtown Reno. The works in this gallery, the artist’s first museum exhibition in the United States, are inspired by national and international occurrences. Stichbury took a special interest in the 1994 southern Nevada UFO sightings at Nellis Air Force Base. This incident began when someone inside the facility leaked video footage of a flying object to the media. The video appeared on the television show Hard Copy, igniting intense interest and debate among UFO believers and doubters alike. Officials at both Nellis Air Force Base and the Pentagon declined to comment, leading Stichbury and many other members of the public to wonder about the motives behind the leaked footage. Was the individual a genuine whistleblower, or did this represent an incident of sanctioned disinformation, disseminated by an arm of the U.S. military? There is a history of reported incursions into military facilities by UFOs, specifically over nuclear weapons storage areas. In the 1967 Malmstrom Air Force Base UFO sighting, for example, an object hovered above the base, causing missiles to become inoperable. Was the perpetrator extraterrestrial, or could this have been a human-caused incident related to espionage and national security? How can citizens grasp the sophistication of human technology, its parameters and capabilities, and the shroud of secrecy surrounding such technology? These questions, and the ongoing tension between reality and folklore embedded in UFO culture, provide compelling subject matter for Stichbury’s uncanny psychological explorations.
JoAnne Northrup, Curatorial Director and Curator of Contemporary Art, Nevada Museum of Art