Resident: Ashley Zelinskie

21.04 Residency Lab: Project Exploration - Ashley Zelinskie for Agora Digital Art
Ashley Zinskie, Exploration JWST (2017) Nasa laser gold plated 3d printed nylon 17 x 17 x 13 in © Courtesy of the artist.

Project concept: Exploration

Digital Curator: MiMi L.

In 2017, I created a work of art in collaboration with NASA Goddard to commemorate the James Webb Space Telescope being built. I called that piece Exploration.

Exploration. The sole purpose of the James Webb Space Telescope mission. To look back in time and see how our universe was formed. To raise questions we never thought to ask. To reach into the unknown. Exploration was created using 3D scans of John Cromwell Mather, astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate and Amber Straughn Astrophysicist; Deputy Project Scientist for JWST Science Communications. The arms are reaching out of the primary mirror of the JWST as though they are reaching through a portal to the ends of the universe. As they push through they are enveloped in information, formulas that have helped unlock the secrets of the universe. The third arm is my own; the arm of an artist. The abstract idea of studying what you don’t know is hard to grasp. This is a disconnect that art can help fill in. Art asks people every day to think about abstract ideas and opens a doorway for creative thinking. My hope is to apply this open-mindedness to science and in this way be better equipped to take in the universe in all its vastness and mystery.

Now in 2021, the telescope will finally launch, a culmination of human achievement, and I would like to feature those humans that made it happen. NASA Goddard has once again asked me to create a work but this time commemorating the launch of the JWST in October. I have been interviewing scientists and engineers at NASA to get the scoop on what they worked on, how it affects the overall mission, their personal stories and emotions, and why this mission is so monumental. My work of art will be a testament to the humans that worked on this project for over a decade. I am still in the interview process with scientists and engineers. I have interviewed 12 people from thermal engineers and astrophysicists to exoplanet experts and astronomers. I am still uncertain what form the artwork will take. As a conceptual artist, I like to let the idea grow into an appropriate medium. I do have a ton of footage and would like to make a video of some sort. Perhaps projected onto a sculpture.

VR Exhibition in Hubs Mozilla

Conversation between artist, Ashley Zelinskie, and Digital Curator, MiMi L. (recorded on 4 May 2021)

Next event: 24 February 2022 at 7-9 pm EST | 1-3 am GMT

Unfolding the Universe: A James Webb Space Telescope VR Experience in commemoration of the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope created by conceptual artist Ashley Zelinskie in coordination with the NASA James Webb Space Telescope team.

Artist’s Portfolio

Ashley Zelinskie, Vitruvian Woman (2019) © Courtesy of the artist.
Ashley Zelinskie, One and One Chair (yyyy) © Courtesy of the artist.

About the artist

Ashley Zelinskie (b. 1987) is a Brooklyn-based conceptual artist working at the intersection of art, technology and mathematics.

Her works span a variety of media, from large- and small-scale sculpture to canvas and print works, each created using cutting edge technology such as 3D printing and computer-guided laser cutting.

Her work focuses on visualizing data in abstract forms and finding new and interesting ways to describe complex ideas.

Ashley’s work has been featured by Vice, Brooklyn Magazine, the New York Times and Hyperallergic. Her work forms part of the permanent collection of the US Department of State Art in Embassies Program and has recently been exhibited at Sotheby’s New York. Ashley is a former resident of New Inc.—the New Museum’s Art and Technology Incubator—and currently working in collaboration with NASA. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Artist’s Statement

How can humans hope to transmit our cultural heritage into the future when we ourselves are impermanent, alive for only seconds when compared to the lifetime of the universe? Utilizing a post-New Media approach, wherein the media employed are merely vehicles in service of underlying concepts, I am attempting the process of translating our vast history into a universal language meant to stand the test of time. By fabricating traditional objects in dual forms—as the classical entity and the data that represent them—my work seeks to focus a lens on our place as a small part of a larger whole.

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