Arts / Science / Startups

Artist Bradley Pitts wraps up residency at Pioneer Works

Combine aerospace and visual arts training and you get Pitts' brand of tech-heavy art: projects that explore our relationship with outer space.

Bradley Pitts, at Pioneer Works. (Photo by Brady Dale)

Bradley Pitts work is so widely interdisciplinary that he doesn’t even really know how much of it works. It’s hard to pin down his work to a genre, but it usually involves some sort of machine. While he knows engineering, he needs technical collaborators to get most of his pieces completed.

We first met Pitts at TWO5SIX downtown, the video game and culture conference. We later sat down with him at Pioneer Works, in Red Hook. His recent residency there ended in May.

Pitts told us that he’s gotten good at coming up with concepts and finding the people who can help him execute them, technically. His work is very technical.

Pitts trained in aerospace at MIT, as well as in the visual arts. This means he speaks engineering — a language that reinforces a certain stubbornness about how he wants his work to come out.

“We went to the moon,” he said, “so don’t tell me that lighting this installation is impossible.”

Outer space is a major theme in Pitts’ work. “I restore science and technology to a place where they can be used to investigate philosophical questions and subjective realities,” he writes in his artist statement.

“By looking at what we do in space, it says a lot about our values,” Pitts told us.

Every trip humans have taken to space has been about gathering data, he explains. As private space travel lifts off, it will no longer be about data acquisition. Pitts is interested in how humans understand and express value in emptiness.

His thinking about space is also more terrestrial. One piece of aerospace artwork in development is an elaborate flight simulator. The work is tentatively called “IL-76MDK Simulator.” Its many monitors show the view from the plane in every possible direction. The photo below is just the screens that show the view from the cockpit and below.

Flight simulator installation

Views from a virtual airplane

Another project, The Darkness In Between, takes advantage of the digital flexibility of LED lights.

With his Yearlight Calendar, Pitts has designed a print that he can adapt for any place on Earth. The white bands in the picture below represent full daylight. The colors at the edges show liminal daylight, or when it appears dark but there’s still too much light for astronomers. The thin white band shows when the moon is above that part of the earth.

Calender illustrating relative levels of daylight in New York City

The Yearlight Calendar, detail.

You can get a Yearlight Calendar here.

The second floor of Pioneer Works from the third

The second floor of the Pioneer Works, from the third.

Companies: Pioneer Works
Series: Brooklyn

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