Infinite Jest

a blog with the thoughts and random musings from the mind and work bench of James G. Jenkins

The Fermilab Artist-In Residence Show & Reception Day Thank You

The actions have been taken, the outcomes are to be relinquished. The moment has arrived when the work for the Artist-In-Residence @ Fermilab is open for public review and comment. It has been a year full of creative activity, intense focus at times, and now a sense of appreciation for the opportunity to be at Fermilab.

The experience has provided me with unique opportunities not usually found in my day to day art making activities. The almost 45 year planned project to record the sound of snowflakes hitting wires has been realized. The opportunity to connect art, science and music together with the fabrication of “The Angel of the Apocalypse” combined with the performance of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time at Ramsey Auditorium is the stuff of which dreams are made of.

The acquisition of unexpected materials all fueling and driving the creative process has been a delightful experience. The things I’m given to work with is a foundational aspect of my work. A perfect example is one of the leaded crystal elements from experiment E760. If Larry Bartoszek hadn’t given me this thing the Angel would not have been made, the concert, the experience would not have happened


The .004″ dia. detector wire from and experiment at Fermilab given to me by Derek Plant of Fermilab and his expertise in creating metal spinnings shaped into resonant cones, made the snowflake detector for Ring Around the Ring possible.

Meeting and interacting with many individuals at Fermilab has been a very real bright spot in my art making experience. I have found The Family of Fermilab to be a tight knit and supportive group inspiring not only my work but the work of the scientific community at large.

It is with some sadness to find my tenure as AIR over.The 2018 AIR Mr. Adam Nadel will hopefully find Fermilab as inspiring as I have.

There are many things that would not have been created if it were not for this exposure and opportunity. I have many other things related to the experience to come. Fermilab is a remarkable jewel on the prairie. I will be forever grateful for this program and will continue to be an Ambassador within the community for it.

Thank You!


The Wild Ride of Mr. Py

Mr. Py was not traveling in this dimension any longer, any shorter, or in any way imaginable to most of the inhabitants of this Earth. The “Skate” was traveling fractionally above the speed of light, an impossibility just seconds before.

Questioning the reliability of the digital display; Mr. Py tapped the screen absentmindedly as he was incapable of resisting this antiquated analog practice. All external indicators and internal sensors confirmed his impression of what was happening at this very moment. The knotted lump in the pit of his stomach confirmed his growing fear. The quantifiable external velocity was in fact in keeping with the experimental data collected on pulsed quarktide propulsion systems.

Nothing had prepared him for this experience. His early technical work with “striker- aerocraftidrones” had not prepared him. The twelve, “pure research” years studying Cherenkov Radiation had not. The ten grueling and exhausting years of study and experimentation at CERN on the first Heisenberg Compensator had in no way prepared him for this or had it? This may be the first effects of Imaginary Mode of Mobility Affected Disorder or ImMAD setting in. His first “rip” in the “4FooSkate”; although enlightening, was in fact a quiet uneventful carousel ride by comparison.

What troubled him the most was not the excruciating physical pain traveling at this speed albeit considerable, it was the unexpected exposure to the void. It was there, it could be seen! It was beyond all reason…a sound of string breaking reverberating with a cruel echo…

Traversing the space/time hologram at above light speeds was bound to punish the “ripper”. This punishment was minute when compared to his enormous sense of loss, disconnection, and dread of all things he had previously considered essential to his health and well being. It wasn’t surprising to Mr. Py that madness usually accompanied the “rips” as the early literature of “Skate” events would suggest. Driving a “Skate” even at reduced velocities produced violent reactions even in the most mentally capable “drivers”. Doubt, pain, exhaustion, drool…

His powers of observation had always been acute. He had refined them over his experimental life. Mr. Py had honed them to razor sharpness before this event horizon. What he was now experiencing was a sense of being captured in a thickening ooze impairing all of his mental faculties. The experience of a thickening mental ooze is consistent with the technical term, “veloci-rapture”. Blood pools in the brain for an instant at 147.000/Amk, producing the effect. After it clears one may actually believe the spectacle before them is not real. Mr. Py believed that. He believed he was a tunneling electron microscope. He believed he was a quantifiable success. He believed his life was ending or not ending. Mr. Py believed his internal digital display and systems monitor had one flashing yellow LED sensor. He ignored it as usual. The last synapse snapped I/O. He was in fact beyond all things human.

© J. Jenkins 2018


The Soapbox

I would like to provide you with some insight into my work. I will first ask you to visualize a wooden box in the middle of my studio.

The wooden box has contained many things over the years including glass, bottles, steel, antique lantern slides, magnets, pins, maps, brass cut-outs, magnifying lenses, motors, ice, computer chips, microscopes, paper, bicycles, and a dictionary or two.

My imagination then suggested something to me. I was to suggest to you that the wooden box be stenciled with the word Soap.  This is no doubt based in my recollection of meditating as a young boy. I would find myself repeating the word Soap over and over again until it had lost all meaning. Soap was my Mantra.

Please invert the soapbox and place me on top of it. I stand surrounded by some of my recent works and perhaps there are some older ones as well. I don’t really control what shows up in the collection surrounding me, it’s your imagination at work. The fabrications all contain some parts formerly in the box but are not limited to having been inside the box. They are now outside of the box for your examination.

At this point I’m called upon to say something meaningful from the soapbox. Well here goes…

The fabrications are all well made. Traditional manufacturing methods are utilized to produce these works. These methods may be taken to an extreme to emphasize a very specific point of view. The fabrications may be unsettling as they appear to have little or no connection with what is familiar to you. They may move, record, balance, melt, distract and perhaps disorient.  All parts of the fabrications are intentionally selected.  Everything articulated to provide essentially an allegory. They are in fact hyper-anachronistic allegorical and metaphysical timepieces.

This may cause you to reflect as do some of the mirrors in my work, or it may not. You decide. There is no more time and space now for me on this page. The soapbox is removed. Your work is done for the moment, mine is not.

© J. Jenkins 2018