HOMESelected Museum Installations

 
Critical Assembly and Terrestrial Physics

In 1998 Jim Sanborn visited the Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb was detonated. This visit led him to a six-year project titled Critical Assembly during which he created a tableau based on the laboratory environment for the assembly of the first atomic bomb. This large installation began with concentrated research and then with many trips over a four-year period to Los Alamos NM where he acquired original spare parts and prototypes of the first atomic bomb and the laboratory equipment used to build them. The objects he was not able to acquire from former employees of the lab, he constructed.

Terrestrial Physics Sanborn's most recent project predates that 1944 Los Alamos program by several years and focuses on the following event.

In a quiet residential neighborhood in Washington DC at 9:00 pm Saturday, January 28, 1939, the large particle accelerator at The Carnegie Institutions Department of Terrestrial Magnetism split the nucleus of the uranium atom for a small audience that included the physicists Enrico Fermi, Niels Bohr and Edward Teller. This discovery paved the way for technologies as ironically disparate as nuclear medicine and, within just five years, the atomic bomb.

Working from the Carnegie physicist's original notes, drawings, and photographs in the Carnegie Library, Sanborn has reconstructed machines based on this information and repeated the original experiment; splitting the atom of Uranium. The installation, large digital prints, a video of the fission events and the accelerator in operation, form the basis of this recent body of work.

Terrestrial Physics and Critical Assembly soften the distinctions between art and science. These installations exploring the relationship between pure science and technology do not use science as just a starting point though; here, tools more often associated with science have become an integral part of artwork. These reinterpretations of the events and more importantly the influence of the visual context of these moments remind us of the risks, rewards and complexities of the decision-making processes involved.

Click here to see MCA-Denver YouTube video.

       
  Title: Terrestrial Physics, 2010
Location: MCA Denver, Denver, CO
Materials: Mixed materials, original parts, artifacts and video
Size: 18'x30'x50'
Title: Terrestrial Physics, 2010
Location: MCA Denver, Denver, CO
Materials: Mixed materials, original parts, artifacts and video
Size: 18'x30'x50'
           
  Title: Terrestrial Physics, 2010
Location: MCA Denver, Denver, CO
Materials: Mixed materials, original parts, artifacts and video
Size: 18'x30'x50'
  Title: Terrestrial Physics, 2010
Location: Outside studio
Materials: Mixed materials, original parts and artifacts
Size: 28'x20'x10'
           
  Title: Critical Assembly, laboratory environment for the assembly of the Trinity device, 1998-2004
Location: Gwangju Biennale, South Korea
Materials: Mixed materials, original parts and artifacts
Size: Dimensions variable
  Title: Critical Assembly Detail: Bottom Half of the Trinity Device, 1998-2004
Location: Gwangju Biennale, South Korea
Materials: Mixed materials, original parts and artifacts
Size: Dimensions variable
           
  Title: Critical Assembly Detail: Assembly for Critical Mass, 1998-2004
Location: Gwangju Biennale, South Korea
Materials: Mixed materials, original parts and artifacts
Size: Dimensions variable
  Title: Critical Assembly Detail: Los Alamos Prototype II, 1998-2004
Location: Gwangju Biennale, South Korea
Materials: Mixed materials, original prototypes and artifacts
Size: Dimensions variable
           
  Title: Covert Obsolescence: The Code Room, 1993
Location: Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC
Materials: Copper, text, projected light and petrified tree
Size: 18'x20'x50'
  Title: Covert Obsolescence, The Listening Post, 1993
Location: Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC
Materials: Pulped C.I.A. documents, copper screen, 35mm film projection of lava falls
Size: 18'x20'x30'
           
  Title: Animisme, 1993
Location: High Museum of Art Atlanta, GA
Materials: Shinto rice straw rope and paper, suspended
Size: 15' in diameter
  Title: Covert Obsolescence, The Listening Post, 1993
Location: Studio installation
Materials: Pulped C.I.A. documents, copper screen
Size: 9'x15'x15'
           
  Title: North by Northwest, 1981
Location: Artists Space, New York, NY
Materials: Lodestone, compasses,
sandstone and light
Size: Dimensions variable
  Title: Coriolis, 1985-1992
Location: The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Materials: Sandstone, museum specimens, whirlpool and light
Size: Dimensions variable
           
  Title: Thunderhead Horizon, 1985
Location: Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC
Materials: Sandstone, lodestone, shadow
Size: 12'x24'x4'
  Title: Invisible Forces, 1985
Location: Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC
Materials: Lodestone, compasses, sandstone and light
Size: 10'x30'x5'
           
  Title: The Mummy Room, 1980
Location: The Virginia Museum, Richmond, Virginia
Materials: Stone, Egyptian mummy, mummy case
Size: 8'x14'x20'
  Title: All Things Turned to Stone, 1988
Location: LA County Museum of Art
Materials: Petrified tree, broken tree, stone and dowsing rods
Size: 14'x20'x5'
           

HOMESelected Public Artworks

           
  Title: Radiance, 2008
Location: Department of Energy, Coast, and Environment, Lousianna State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Materials: Bronze, waterjet cut text, pin point light source
Size: Projection cylinders: 8' high x 5' diameter
  Title: Lux, 2001
Location: Old Post Office Building; Fort Myers, Florida
Materials: Bronze, Native American and Latin texts, pin point light source
Size: Projection cylinders: 8' high x 5' diameter
           
  Title: A Comma, A, 2004
Location: Plaza in front of the new library, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Materials: Copper, international language texts, light, black granite paving inlay
Size: 6'x26'x80'
  Title: Kryptos, 1989
Location: Courtyard plaza, Central Intelligence Agency; Langley, Virginia
Materials: Granite, quartz, lodestone, copper, encoded text, water
Size: 12'x20'x10'
           
  Title: A Comma, A, 2004
Location: Plaza in front of the new library, University of Houston
Materials: Copper, text, light, black granite paving inlay
Size: 6'x26'x80'
  Title: Kryptos, 1989
Location: Courtyard lawn, Central Intelligence Agency; Langley, Virginia
Materials: Granite, quartz, lodestone, copper, encoded text, water
Size: 3'x60'x12'
           
  Title: Coastline, 1993
Location: NOAA Museum of the Sea, Silver Spring, Maryland
Materials: Pheumatic wave generator, granite, modem connection for real time wave height
Size: 100'x50'
  Title: Paleos, 1994
Location: MIT Department of Microbiology, Cambridge, MA
Materials: Mixed materials with large format floor projection
Size: Variable dimentions
           
  Title: Rippawam, 1999
Location: University of Connecticut, Stamford, CT
Materials: Rolled copper, Native American texts with English translation
Size: 6'x26'x4'
  Title: Antipodes, 1997
Location: Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC
Materials: Copper, encoded text, petrified tree
Size: 11'x6'x3'
           
 

HOMEPhotography and Video

 
The Radium Clock Series

The first test of an atomic bomb occured in the southern New Mexico desert just before dawn at 5:30 AM on July16, 1945. The intense flash that turned night into day was thought by residents as far away as 100 miles to be sunrise. Ironically, radioactive luminous clocks on night-stands in bedrooms across New Mexico informed the residents that it was not yet sunrise. The clock face images are time-lapse photographs of luminous radium alarm clock dials.

The images in the Radium Clock series are presented as 20" x 24" and 30” x 36” digital prints.

           

Carrizozo NM

  Title: Carrizozo, New Mexico, 2002
Description: Radium clock dial, digital print, 30" x 36"
Las Cruces   Title: Las Cruces, New Mexico, 2002
Description: Radium clock dial, digital print, 30" x 36"
           
Granquivira   Title: Granquivira, New Mexico, 2002
Description: Radium clock dial, digital print, 30" x 36"
Ancho   Title: Ancho, New Mexico, 2002
Description: Radium clock dial, digital print, 30" x 36"
 
The Uranium Autoradiograph Series

Nuclear materials are primarily derived from “natural” uranium. This radioactive ore is currently mined at hundreds of sites worldwide. In the 1940s, when the first atomic bomb was assembled, just a handful of mines supplied the material.

These images were created by placing samples of uranium collected from these early mines onto 4” x 5” sheet film. In time, the ore samples photographed themselves using their own radioactivity to expose the film. These digital prints made from the exposed film are called autoradiographs. They were first used by Marie Curie in the 19th century, at that time, only in black and white.

In 1934, physicist Pavel Cherenkov discovered the “color” of radioactivity. The intense blue of Cherenkov Radiation is seen in the air surrounding powerfully radioactive materials. The cobalt blue in the autoradiographs is this color, formed naturally by the radiation.

The images in the Uranium Autoradiograph Series are presented as 20" x 24" and 30” x 36” digital prints.

           
Joachimsthal, Bavaria   Title: Joachimsthal, Bavaria, 2001-2003
Description: Uranium autoradiograph, digital print, 30" x 36"
Gas Hills   Title: Gas Hills, Wyoming, 2001-2003
Description: Uranium autoradiograph, digital print, 30" x 36"
           
Monticello, Utah   Title: Monticello, Utah, 2001-2003
Description: Uranium autoradiograph, digital print, 30" x 36"
Shinkolobwe   Title: Shinkolobwe, Congo, 2001-2003
Description: Uranium autoradiograph, digital print, 30" x 36"
 
The Penetrating Radiation Series

Since the 1950s, depleted uranium has been used in certain types of artillery shells. Uranium has two properties that make it an attractive weapon: the material is heavier and harder than lead and it is pyrophoric (when it hits an object, it ignites spontaneously and burns violently.) Tens of thousands of uranium projectiles have been fired in international “theaters” of war. The health effects of these weapons are currently creating significant conflict within the international community.

The images in the Penetrating Radiation series are presented as 40" x 36" and 30" x 24" digital prints in sets of two.

           
Penetrating Radiation   Title: Penetrating Radiation 1, 2003
Description: Depleted Uranium projectile (left), Autoradiograph (right), digital prints, 40" x 36" each
Penetrating Radiation   Title: Penetrating Radiation 2, 2003
Description: Depleted Uranium projectile (left), Autoradiograph (right), digital prints, 40" x 36" each
           
Penetrating Radiation   Title: Penetrating Radiation 3, 2003
Description: Depleted Uranium projectile (left), Autoradiograph (right), digital prints, 40" x 36" each
Penetrating Radiation   Title: Penetrating Radiation 4, 2003
Description: Depleted Uranium projectile (left), Autoradiograph (right), digital prints, 40" x 36" each
 
The Cloud Chamber and Hydra Video Selections

The Cloud Chamber video documents the occurrence of nuclear fission produced by the particle accelerator in the Terrestrial Physics installation. This video is shown within this installation as a projection or on a large flat screen monitor.

The Hydra video shows a block of CO2 sitting on a sheet of black rubber. Two opposing narrow beams of intense light reveal the ordinarily invisible and snakelike CO2 vapor emanations. The Hydra sound track was recorded in the Arctic and begins with the sound of wind and then builds with the sound of large scale moving ice and glacial melting.

           
 

Description: Video still from Cloud Chamber, HD video of the accelerators cloud chamber showing the fission events, with real-time soundtrack, 7:10

Hydra Still  

Description: Video still from Hydra, HD video of dry ice with Arctic ice soundtrack, 8:27

           
 
The Topographic Projections and Implied Geometries Series

These images were produced by direct, large format, light projection.  The projector, powered by a mobile generator, was moved from site to site.  All of the pieces were photographed at night using long exposures.  On moonless nights, the landscape was lit with searchlights.  The landforms themselves are quite large, requiring the projector and camera to be, on average, 1/2 mile away from the subject landscape.

The images in the Topographic Projections and Implied Geometries Series are presented as 20" x 24", 30” x 36” and 48” x 60” digital prints.

           
Bandon, Oregon II, Projected Light   Title: Bandon, Oregon II, 1997
Description: Large format projection, digital print, 30"x36"
Horse Valley, Utah IV   Title: Horse Valley, Utah IV, 1995
Description: Large format projection, digital print, 30"x36"
           
(Triangle) Cainville, Utah   Title: Cainville, Utah, 1995
Description: Large format projection, digital print, 30"x36"
Rough Rock, Arizona, Projected Light   Title: Rough Rock, Arizona, 1996
Description: Large format projection, digital print, 30"x36"
           
KIlkee County Claire, Ireland   Title: Kilkee County Claire, Ireland, 1997
Description: Large format projection, digital print, 30"x36"
(Square) Notom, Utah   Title: Notom, Utah, 1995
Description: Large format projection, digital print, 30"x36"
           
Green River, Utah, Projected Light   Title: Green River, Utah, 1997
Description: Large format projection, digital print, 30"x36"
Longsturn County Cork, Ireland   Title: Longsturn County Cork, Ireland, 1997
Description: Large format projection, digital print, 30"x36"
           


 

HOME

 
 

Title: Encoded Cylinder, 1990

Materials: Pulped CIA documents, encoded text

Size: 72"x18"x18"

 

Title: Covert Obsolescence Detail, 1990

Materials: Pulped CIA documents, encoded text

Size: 5"x6"

           
 

Title: Covert Obsolescence 1, 1991

Materials: Pulped CIA documents, encoded English text

Size: 60"x96"x4"

 

Title: Covert Obsolescence 2, 1991

Materials: Pulped CIA documents, encoded Cyrillic text

Size: 60"x96"x4"

           
 

Title: Covert Oblolescence 3, 1991

Materials: Pulped CIA documents, encoded Arabic text

Size: 84"x74"x 4"

 

Title: Covert Oblolescence 4, 1991

Materials: Pulped CIA documents, encoded English text

Size: 18"x 72"x 4"

           
 

Title: Archeotranscription 1, 1992

Materials: Etched copper, KGB documents

Size: 40"x40"x4"

 

Title: Archeotranscription Detail, 1992

Materials: Etched copper, KGB documents

Size: detail

           
 

Title: Archeotranscription 2, 1992

Materials: Etched copper, KGB documents

Size: 23"x24"

 

Title: Archeotranscription 3, 1992

Materials: Etched copper, KGB documents

Size: 23"x24"

           
 

Title: Archeotranscription 4, 1992

Materials: Etched copper, KGB documents

Size: 23"x24"

 

Title: Clandestine Device 1, 1992

Materials: Etched copper, sandstone, KGB documents

Size: 12"x12"x12"

           
 

Title: Clandestine Device 2, 1992

Materials: Etched copper, sandstone, KGB documents

Size: 74"x 24"x24"

 

Title: Clandestine Device 3, 1992

Materials: Etched copper, sandstone, KGB documents

Size: 18"x12"x12"

           
 

Title: Deceit Filter, INGANNO [L. deceit], 1992

Materials: Etched copper, latin text

Size: 12"x 14"x 3"

 

Title: Deceit Filter OBMAH [R. deceit], 1992

Materials: Etched copper, russian text

Size: 12"x14"x3"

           
 

Title: Bias Filter, INCLINARE [L. bias],1992

Materials: Aluminum, etched copper, text, shadow

Size: 72"x18"x18"

 

Title: Bias Filter, INCLINARE [L. bias]Detail, 1992

Materials: Aluminum, etched copper, text, shadow

Size: detail

           
 

Title: Light Filter CBET [R. light], 1992

Materials: aluminum, etched copper, text, shadow

Size: 60"x24'x24"

 

Title: Light Filter CBET [R. light] Detail, 1992

Materials: aluminum, etched copper, text, shadow

Size: detail

           
 

Title: Shadow Filter OMBRE [F. shadow], 1992

Materials: Stainless steel, text, reflection and shadow

Size: 60"x24"x24"

 

Title: Shadow Filter OMBRE [F. shadow] Detail, 1992

Materials: Stainless steel, text, reflection and shadow

Size: detail

           

 

 

HOMEResume

Artist Jim Sanborn was born in Washington, DC on November 14, 1945. He graduated from Randolph-Macon College in 1969 with a double major in art history and sociology. He received his Masters degree in sculpture from Pratt Institute in 1971.

Sanborn has received numerous awards and grants and has exhibited in major museums in the United States, Asia, and Europe. Jim Sanborn's public artworks are located in Japan, Taiwan and many locations in the United States. This site offers an extensive selection of images and descriptions of these works.

Jim Sanborn is currently developing a new body of museum and gallery works about the global trade in looted antiquities.

Selected Group Exhibitions

2010       Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO
2009       The Crawford Gallery, "Terror And The Sublime", Cork City, Ireland
2007       Heckscher Museum of Art, "Mathematics and Contemporary Art", Huntington, NY
2006       Irvine Contemporary, "Gallery Artists", Washington, DC.
2006       Palm Springs Art Museum, "Contemporary Desert Photography", Palm Springs, CA
2005       Colgate University Art Gallery, "Bang", Hamilton, NY
2004       The Qwangju Biennale, Republic of Korea.
2002       The Contemporary Museum, "Snapshots" Baltimore, MD
2001       The Scottsdale Museum of Fine Arts, "The Altered Landscape", Scottsdale, AZ
2000       The Contemporary Arts Center, "Landshapes", Newport News, VA
1999       The Southeast Museum of Photography, "Landshapes," Daytona Beach, FL
1999       The Nevada Museum of Art, "The Altered Landscape," Reno NV
1997       The Neuberger Museum, "Public Art Biennial," Purchase, NY
1994       The High Museum, "Metaphysical Metaphors", Atlanta,GA
1992       The Phillips Collection, "Dialogue With Nature," Washington, DC
1988       L.A. County Museum of Art, "AVA7," Los Angeles, CA
1988       Virginia Museum Of Fine Arts, AVA7, Richmond,VA
1987       Southeastern Center of Contemporary Art, "Southeast 7," Winston Salem, NC
1985       Hirshhorn Museum, "Content", Washington, DC
1985       The Corcoran Gallery of Art, "Natural Settings", Washington, DC

 

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2006      Kreeger Museum, Washington, DC
2003      Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC
2003      Numark Gallery, Washington, DC
1999      Numark Gallery, Washington, DC
1996      Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD
1994      Nancy Drysdale Gallery, Washington, DC
1993      The Orlando Museum of Fine Arts, Orlando, FL
1992      The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
1992      Nancy Drysdale Gallery, Washington, DC
1986      Diane Brown Gallery, NYC
1982      Diane Brown Gallery, NYC
1981      Artists Space, NYC

 
   

Selected Collections

The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Kaohsiung Museum Of Fine Arts, Republic of China.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, MD
The Central Intelligence Agency, Langly, VA (GSA)
The National Endowment For The Arts, Washington, DC
Kawasaki International Peace Park, Kawasaki, Japan
Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL
Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL
Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV
Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA
US Embassy, Dublin, Ireland
Progressive Insurance, Cleveland, OH
University Of Houston, Houston, TX
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
University of California SF, San Francisco, CA





The reproduction of these copyrighted images is expressly forbidden without the written permission of the artist

Awards and Grants

2006       Kreeger Museum Fellowship
2005       Maryland Arts Council Grant
1997       Sirius Project Residency, Cork Ireland
1994       Virginia Commission on The Arts Grant
1992       Virginia Commission On the Arts Grant
1992       Pollack Krasner Foundation Grant
1991,94  Virginia Museum Fellowship
1990       Art Matters Inc. Grant
1988       Awards In The Visual Arts Grant
1988       Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant
1986,82  National Endowment For The Arts Fellowship

 

Contact the Artist: kryptos@earthlink.net

Contact The Artist's Gallery

Marsha Mateyka Gallery : mmateyka@aol.com

202-328-0088

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