Names of the Orlando 49 broadcast into the heavens

Milky Way Galaxy

Center of the Milky Way Galaxy, NASA. NASA, The Hubble Telescope

In one of the more spectacular tributes to the Orlando shooting victims, artist Terence Koh broadcast their names into outer space at a “chanting ceremony” last night at New York‘s Andrew Edlin Gallery.

The Chinese-born Canadian artist spoke the 49 names into a microphone that then transmitted the sound into space via an antenna installed outside the gallery.

This was followed by a light projection and a screening of the films “Beautiful People,” by David Wojnarowicz, “Pink Flamingos,” by John Waters, “Jihad for Lovers,” by Parvez Sharma, “Raspberry Reich,” by Bruce LaBruce, “Flaming Creatures,” by Jack Smith and “Bijou” by Wakefield Poole.

Koh has exhibited around the world, including major solo exhibitions at MUSACSchirn Kunsthalle and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Koh’s work includes photography, performance pieces, sculptures and installations.

He designed a piano for Lady Gaga to play during her 2010 Grammy’s performance. Lady Gaga was also a guest on an installment, called “88 Pearls,” of Koh’s short-lived YouTube series the “Terence Koh Show.” Other notable guests included  Marina Abramović and Ai Wei Wei.

His exhibition titled “Bee Chapel” is ongoing until July 1 at the Andrew Edlin Gallery. It marks a return to the art world. In 2014, he discontinued his gallery representation and moved to the Catskills.

The “Bee Chapel” exhibition connects with the reading of the victims names more than one might imagine, as the show is meant to focus on themes of community and connection during a politically tumultuous time, as made clear by the following portion from a recent profile of Koh in The New York Times

“This notion came to him while reading the Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, who wrote extensively during the political tumult of the 1960s — an era Koh feels is particularly relevant again today. (Indeed, other, framed works in the show combine organic materials like honey, wax and earth with ephemera from the presidential race, like Bernie, Hillary and Trump buttons). ‘Krishnamurti asked: how do you get out of this chaos?’ Koh relates. His answer: “You have to start with one person first, and before that, the spirit.’

“The exhibition, of course, advances an ecological cause: In recent years, dwindling bee populations have evolved from disconcerting trend into an acute threat to food production and human viability on Earth. The show taps into more transcendental expressions of oneness, as well. Beyond the colony’s own humming, which is mic’ed and amplified, similarly themed soundtracks play in each of the spaces. ‘We create the sense that everything in the show is living in a vibration,’ Koh says. In one instance, he worked with NASA, which suggested he include a Hawaiian radio station live-streaming the collision of two black holes 1.2 billion light years away. Another track — much more D.I.Y., but somehow equally profound — chronicles the approach of two flames burning from opposite sides of the same candle.”

Other recent artistic tributes to the victims of the Orlando Shooting include an original song by Melissa Etheridge, a cover of “What The World Needs Now” by Broadway stars performing under the name Broadway for Orlando and The London Gay Men’s Choir performing a cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.”

And if you’re wondering, how on earth can a man with just a microphone send a message to outer space? Check out this link about how far our broadcasts have traveled. That scientific fact was a major plot point in a sci-fi movie, Contact, starring Jodie Foster.

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