Friday, January 04, 2008

Frederick Loomis: The Third Covenant at Steven Wolf Fine Arts

Happy new year!

Last night I went to see Frederick Loomis' solo show at Steven Wolf Fine Arts in San Francisco. Fred is a visionary artist who spent the first 25 years of his career drawing in staff meetings as a Marketing executive for Verizon. He took early retirement a few years back and got an MFA from California College of the Arts, which is where I first encountered his intricate and obsessive work in 2004.

Miriam Mosher, First Generation, Class 5 Anthropomorphic Computing Platform, 2005, colored pencil on paper

Fred's been getting some much-deserved attention lately. The image above appeared on the cover of Leonardo last winter (Vol. 40 No. 1, February 2007, MIT Press). It depicts the first generation of human computers endowed with a soul, the "Mother Platform." Her skin is made of 24K gold and her nervous system is fiber-optic. Loomis attributes all his work to his alter ego "Edward Mathew Taylor," whose visions in the 20th century predict the coming race of human computers and lay the foundation for a new techno-futurist religion.

The Dios Neurocontroller, 2006, pencil on paper

Taylor has had visions of "Mind Maps," mandalas crossed with microchips that describe a circuit of sentience. His prophecy draws from three sources: the Mormon Church of Latter-Day Saints, research to develop Artificial Intelligence in machines, and the 12-step recovery program. Like the Mormons, Taylor is engaged in the creation of new religious texts that reflect the circumstances of his contemporary society. These circumstances are defined largely by technological advancement, and the belief held by many in the AI and science-fiction communities (science and literature sides of the same coin) in the impending Singularity when computer evolution outpaces that of humans. He foresees that human failings such as addiction and cruelty will be eliminated by a superior race of computers that preserve mankind's better qualities while avoiding our worse ones.

Porters of the Third Covenant, 1991, pencil on paper

The exhibition also includes a series of older drawings that form "The Third Covenant," describing the lineage between extant Bible-derived religions and Taylor's new faith. A publication has been produced which includes all these drawings and the tenets of the Third Covenant. Loomis reports that the Third Testament will be his next undertaking, in the tradition of the Quran, the Book of Mormon, and Dianetics.

Fred insists that his intention is not actually to start a religion, but I say, if L. Ron Hubbard can have followers, Fred's mythology is way more seductive. He is a man with a mission, and I guarantee you will see much more from Fred Loomis.

Frederick Loomis: The Third Covenant
Through Feb 1, 2008

Steven Wolf Fine Arts
49 Geary St., Suite 411
San Francisco, CA 94108

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