Reentry: New York City

Studies for Synthetic Meteors

Reentry: New York City merges iconic night cityscapes with HD computer simulations in a series of studies for a daring new public art project: synthetic meteor showers in the Manhattan sky. Evoking the spectacle of the Apocalyptic Sublime painting movement and the audacity of Land Art, these new simulations created by Bill Dolson during his Eyebeam residency will be on view Sept. 21 through Oct. 21, with a special opening reception Sept. 21, 6-8pm. The exhibition is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 12-6pm and is free of charge with a suggested donation.

Reentry: New York City contains twelve HD videos of synthetic meteor showers envisioned as luminous, ephemeral drawings in the upper atmosphere that will persist for only seconds or at most, minutes. While quite fantastic, the studies are conceived to demonstrate the technological feasibility of the project, established with the contributions of scientists at agencies such as NASA, Ames Research Center and Los Alamos National Laboratory, among many others. Technical and conceptual background information will be explained in an animated demo, short documentary and printed handouts accompanying the exhibition.

Reentry: New York City uses new technologies to draw on the tradition of the early large scale land art first produced in the 1970s by such innovators as Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson, Robert Morris and Walter de Maria, evoking the same sense of daring, wonder and existential awareness which the scale of these seminal works produced. Updated in a scientifically inspired gesture, the synthetic meteors avoid the permanent monumentalism of earlier land art by their dynamic and ephemeral nature.

Reentry: New York City recalls the Apocalyptic Sublime, a painting genre of the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Britain, in both content and intent. Leading artists of the time including Benjamin West, William Blake and JMW Turner produced popular Apocalyptic Sublime works depicting apocalyptic themes such as The Deluge or scenes from the Book of Revelations, often in urban settings and frequently featuring comets or meteors. The projections and screens in Reentry will be presented salon style. However, in the two hundred years since the Apocalyptic Sublime, the purview of art has been extended from the depiction of an apocalyptic event to the physical staging of one, the grandeur of the proposition, both commenting on and questioning our own spectacular society.

Dolson is simultaneously exhibiting digital C-prints of frames from these video studies at Photographic Gallery, 252 Front Street (South Street Seaport Historic District) in New York City. The exhibition, Trajectories: Carter Hodgkin & Bill Dolson opens September 28 with an artists’ reception 6-9 pm.

For information on Dolson’s Sky/Ground works, including Synthetic Meteors, along with biographical and technical notes, please visit

Projects: Reentry Series
People: Ben EngebrethBill Dolson, Evan Harper, Margaret Heinlen