And it's not very often that I run a press release verbatim. More like never. Especially not here. But I think you'll agree that this is an extra special press release. I don't know Jonathon Keats, but from the sound of this, I'd like to. I think. I know Paulina Borsook through her book -- Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High Tech -- but I do so ever wish she'd get in touch.
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. May we have the envelope, please...
Chris- Paulina Borsook thought the following project might be of interest to you. Please let me know if I can send any more information. -Jonathon
For Immediate Release
METRIC SYSTEM TO BE CUSTOMIZED FOR U.S. MARKET
Conceptual Artist Offers Consumers Personalized Kilogram, Watt, Calorie... First Revolutionary Change to Weights and Measures Since 1793... Major Victory for Democracy in the 21st Century...
SAN FRANCISCO - Following several years of highly-secretive privately-funded research, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats announces comprehensive improvements to the metric system, anticipated finally to make the meter a viable unit of measure in the United States. The system will be introduced to the public at Modernism Gallery, in San Francisco, on October 27, 2005. Mr. Keats will be available to provide expert calibration.
"The metric system was developed in the 18th Century as an alternative to measurements based on the dimensions of kings' fingers and feet," explains Mr. Keats. "It was a decisive break from monarchy, but it wasn't decisive enough." The trouble is that one totalitarian system was replaced with another. "We did away with Louis XVI and Henry VIII, only to chain all measures, of everything in the universe, to the circumference of the Earth."
More specifically, the standard meter is 1/10,000,000 of the quarter-meridian, redefined by the Conference Generale des Poids et Mesures (CGPM) in 1983 as the distance traveled by light in 1/299,792,458 of a second. What Mr. Keats has proposed is an approach as rigorously mathematical as the metric system, that will prioritize the individual rather than the planet. His modification is simple, yet the consequences are profound: Instead of using the earth's spin as the basis of time, he's elected to use people's heartbeat. "Galileo timed his experiments with his pulse," Keats notes. "If it was good enough for him, surely it's good enough for us."
Mr. Keats's system makes everyone's clock personal. Because his own heart beats 1.1 times faster than the terrestrial second, for example, his day is a mere 21.816 terrestrial hours long, and his year is nearly 33 days shorter than you'd see on a calendar (except in leap year). From that, it's a straightforward calculation to derive the length of a personal meter, the distance traveled by light in 1/299,792,458 of a heartbeat. Mr. Keats's meter, for instance, is 0.909 meters international, or approximately 2.982 feet. The length of others' meters may differ. (For example, Mr. Keats recently determined that Craigslist founder Craig Newmark's meter is a more compact 0.833 meters international.)
A liter is the volume equivalent to a cubic meter, a kilogram is the mass equivalent to a liter of water, and units including the watt and calorie can likewise be mathematically derived (as can conversions to imperial system units such as horsepower). In consultation with mathematics professor David Steinsaltz of Queen's University, Ontario, Mr. Keats has developed algorithms to facilitate the calculation of personal standards such as these. At Modernism Gallery, individuals will be invited to commission customized conversion tables, as well as engraved brass meter rods and clocks that beat at their heart rate. A member of the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM), Mr. Keats will be on hand with stethoscope and adding machine to ensure that all measuring instruments and charts are accurate.
"In this day and age, everyone has an iPod, and most people have TiVo," Mr. Keats argues. "Mass-customization is the cutting edge of democracy. By taking this personal approach to measurements -- to standards of time and space and energy and power -- we can each become completely autonomous."
Mr. Keats is widely known for his rigorous approach to art. Most recently, he attempted to genetically engineer God in a petri dish, in collaboration with researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of San Francisco. He has also previously copyrighted his mind in the interest of attaining immortality (offering futures contracts on his brain to fund the operation), and petitioned Berkeley to pass a basic law of logic -- A=A -- a work commissioned by the city's annual Arts Festival. For more information, please see sample media coverage at the following URLs:
God of the Flies - SF Weekly
. . .
Sometimes people call my work absurd - KQED/Spark
Project Aims At Genetically Engineered God - SFGate
Engineering God in a Petri Dish - Wired News
Identity Crisis: Turning Aristotle into Law - legalaffairs
Aristotle's law petition confounds blase Berkeley - SFGate
The man who sold his brain - BBC News
He Thinks, Therefore He Sells - Wired News
At SFMOMA, some words of wisdom on Eva Hesse - SFGate
The Thinking Man's Art - SFGate
Modernism is located at 685 Market Street in San Francisco. The phone number is 415/541-0461. Gallery hours are 10:00 am to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, see www.modernisminc.com/artists/Jonathon_KEATS/ or contact Mr. Keats directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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