An Earth Twin at the Digital Dawn

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November 21, 2024, 11:00 am to 5:00 PM
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18th St. Arts Center Airport Campus
3026 Airport Ave.
Santa Monica, 90405
An Earth Twin at the Digital Dawn

18th Street Arts Center, Otis College of Art and Design, and Cypress College are pleased to present:

An Earth Twin at the Digital Dawn: Tom Van Sant’s GeoSphere Project – an exhibition for the regional Pacific Standard Time: Art & Science Collide event exploring the intersections of art and science. In 1988, when computer simulations of Earth’s systems were still rudimentary experiments and before the World Wide Web existed, internationally renowned artist Tom Van Sant (1931- 2023), began his GeoSphere Project. Prefiguring today’s “Earth systems digital twin” technology by two decades, Van Sant’s goal was to create an accurate, dynamic, interactive, awe-inspiring replica of the Earth that would make its complex ecosystems visible and bring humankind together to know, love, and care for our planet.

Working at technology’s outermost reaches, Van Sant and his scientist-collaborator, Lloyd Van Warren, created the first cloud-free, high-resolution satellite composite image of the Earth. A digital map and a work of art, the composite image was propelled to international acclaim after its release on Earth Day 1990. With its photo-like clarity and lack of political boundaries, it provided scientists, activists, and policymakers around the world with the first accurate global basemap upon which to collectively visualize Earth’s ecosystems and ameliorate the impacts of global climate change.

The GeoSphere’s transformative historic value as an artwork and a universal scientific and environmental tool, along with the technological and cartographic innovations that Van Sant and Van Warren designed to make the work, are the focus of this exhibition. It is curated by Janet Owen Driggs in partnership with Otis College of Art and Design, Van Sant’s alma mater.

Tom Van Sant was an American sculptor, draftsman, civic art planner, and conceptual artist. He completed over 77 major commissions for public spaces around the world, including sculptures, murals, and works of Sky Art. He is recognized as the father of modern kite-making and a life- long student of nature. Born and raised in Los Angeles, his studio was based in Santa Monica for over 30 years.

An Earth Twin at the Digital Dawn