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Paul Catanese: Visible from Space


Summary Note

Artist Paul Catanese has created an interdisciplinary artwork titled Visible from Space that erupts from a thought experiment about creating drawings on Earth so large they would be visible from the moon. Materials in the archive include video, photographs, printed ephemera, and notes.

Biographical Note

Paul Catanese, earned his MFA in Art and Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is a hybrid media artist who blurs the lines between the visual, performing, and media arts in a diverse range of works that include installation, performance, video, sound, projection, and print media. His artworks have been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Chicago Cultural Center, New Museum of Contemporary Art, SFMOMA Artist’s Gallery, La Villette, China Academy of Art, Frankston Art Center, Bangkok Experimental Film Festival, Stuttgart Filmwinter, Festival Internacional de Linguagem Electrônica, New Forms Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the International Symposium on Electronic Art. Catanese has received commissions from Rhizome and Turbulence, grants from the Illinois Arts Council, and New York Foundation for the Arts, a 2014 Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, and the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Artist-in-Residence at Colgate University for 2019. In addition, he has participated in residencies at Signal Culture, PLAYA, Goldwell Museum, Central School Project, and Kala Art Institute; his artwork can be found in collections including the Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries at Wright State University, the Center for Art + Environment Archives at the Nevada Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum. Catanese is author of Director’s Third Dimension, and co-author of Post-Digital Printmaking: CNC, Traditional, and Hybrid Techniques, a book examining the evolution of print media propelled by access to industrial technologies such as laser cutters and 3D Printers. Catanese served as President of the New Media Caucus from 2009-2014, and he is currently an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Study for Art and Art History at Columbia College Chicago.

Scope and Content

Visible from Space (2009 – present) is an interdisciplinary artwork that erupts from a thought experiment about creating drawings on Earth so large they would be visible from the moon. Central to this project are experiments and “field recordings” involving camera-equipped aerial vehicles (e.g rockets, balloons, kites, drones) to capture aerial views of temporary diagrammatic drawings created in the high deserts of the American Southwest, including at the Playa residency program in southern Oregon.

For his premier solo exhibition in Chicago, artist Paul Catanese introduced Visible from Space to the region by activating the Sidney R. Yates Gallery at the Chicago Cultural Center as a site for a three-month residency and exhibition where modes of production from the artists’ studio, film set, black box theatre, and site-specific installation purposefully intermingled. Throughout the duration of the exhibit, Catanese composed large-scale diagrammatic drawings on the floor of Yates using a modular set of props that includes reflective mylar, tripods, marking flags, non-adhesive tape, rope, aerial targeting panels, and hundreds of rigid dimensional lines. At regularly scheduled times each week, Catanese piloted a 12’ helium-filled blimp to fly over, observe, project and record aerial footage of continuously evolving “viewed from the moon” drawings. Viewers were encouraged to visit multiple times over the course of the exhibition to witness the evolution of this materialized drawing practice and the transformation of drawings into field recordings via flight events. Simultaneously, as the recordings accumulate during the residency, they were edited into a long-duration, single-channel video.

Project support for Visible from Space provided to Paul Catanese by the Efroymson Family Fund via a 2014 Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, and Columbia College Chicago via a Faculty Development Grant in 2015. This project is also partially supported by an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Development has been supported via a number of residency programs including the Central School Project in Bisbee, Arizona; the Goldwell Open Air Museum near Death Valley; and the Playa Artists' Residency in Summer Lake, Oregon. Materials in the archive include video, photographs, printed ephemera, and notes.


This archive is arranged into five series based upon subject and a rough chronology of the project. Each series is organized chronologically.
  • Series 1: Project Residencies
  • Series 2: Funding
  • Series 3: Publications
  • Series 4: Exhibitions
  • Series 5: Presentations

Inclusive Dates


Bulk Dates


Quantity / Extent

2.25 cubic feet



Related Archive Collections

  • CAE1312: Jim Denevan: Land Drawings

Related Publications

Catanese, Paul, Century of Progress/Sleep. Paul Catanese, Gemma Godfrey, Julie Licata, Evan Runyon, and Matt Sargent. Gotta Groove Records, 2019. Vinyl record.

Fox, William. Aereality: Essays on the World from Above. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2009.

PLAYA, and Barry Lopez. Sediments, Sequences, and Solitude: Artworks and Poetry from 2011 - 2015, PLAYA Artists in Residence. Sion, Valais, Switzerland: Summer Lake, OR: PLAYA, 2016.

Container Listing by Series:

CAE1610/1 Series 1: Artist Information and Project Residencies, 2008-2014

Series 1 contains materials related to artist residencies. Materials are organized by application date and contain information regarding the status of the application—whether accepted or unaccepted.
  • CAE Box 105

    • 1-1 Artist Information, 2016
    • 1-2 Goldwell Nevada, Unaccepted, 9/29/2008
    • 1-3 Bisbee Arizona, Accepted, 4/20/2009
    • 1-4 Goldwell Nevada, Accepted, 9/28/2009
    • 1-5 Bisbee Arizona, Accepted, 2/18/2013
    • 1-6 Doel Reed, Unaccepted, 1/30/2014
    • 1-7 Mattress Factory, Unaccepted, 2/2/2014
    • 1-8 PLAYA (Summer Lake Oregon), Accepted, 3/14/2014
    • 1-9 Chinati Works, Unaccepted, 4/1/2014
    • 1-10 Darling Foundry, Unaccepted, 5/30/2014
    • 1-11 Carriage House, Unaccepted, 6/5/2014
    • 1-12 The Watermill Center, Unaccepted, 6/9/2014
    • 1-13 Marfa Fieldwork, Unaccepted, 9/14/2014

Additional Materials

  • Archive Bin 3

    • 1-8#52 Drawing Instrument: Line, Black & White Duct Tape Foam Pole, 2014
  • CAE Box 267 Large Objects

    • 1-8#47 Residency Notebook for PLAYA, 2014
  • Stand Alone Box Standing Rack 11C

    • 1-8#48 Drawing Instrument Prototype Flag, Mylar Flag, 2014
    • 1-8#49 Drawing Instrument Flag, Black Vinyl Flag, 2014
  • Textile Rack

    • 1-8#50 Aerial Targeting Pattern Prototype, Vinyl, 2014
    • 1-8#51 Aerial Targeting Panel, Vinyl and Duct Tape, 2014

CAE1610/2 Series 2: Funding, 2014-2015

Series 2 contains materials related to grant applications for funding. Materials are organized by application date and contain information regarding the status of the application—whether funded or unfunded.
  • CAE Box 105

    • 2-1 LACMA Art + Technology Lab, Unfunded, 1/28/2014
    • 2-2 Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, Funded, 5/5/2014
    • 2-3 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, Unfunded, 5/19/2014
    • 2-4 Illinois Arts Council (IAC) Support Grant, Funded, 5/31/2014
    • 2-5 Creative Capital, Unfunded, 9/1/2014
    • 2-6 Columbia College, Chicago Faculty Development Grant, Funded, 10/2/2014
    • 2-7 City of Chicago, Dept of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Funded, 11/4/2014

CAE1610/3 Series 3: Publications, 2010-2018

Series 3 contains publication materials including screen captures, digital images, and copies of the final publication.
  • CAE Box 105

    • 3-1 Leonardo, 2010
    • 3-2 Leonardo Mishmash, 2011
    • 3-3 Scan2Go, 2012
    • 3-4 Arid, 2014
    • 3-5 Field Report (Self Published), 2014
    • 3-6 Newsletters, 2014-2018

CAE1610/4 Series 4: Exhibitions, 2011-2017

Series 4 contains exhibition related materials including proposals, digital images, video, catalogs, planning documents, and press materials.
  • CAE Box 105

    • 4-1 Robert & Elaine Stein Galleries, 10/23/2011
    • 4-2 Kasa Gallery, 2/7/2012
    • 4-3 ExUrban Screens Exhibition, 4/24/2012
    • 4-4 FILE Exhibition, 4/28/2014
    • 4-5 AC Institute Exhibition Proposal, 5/23/2014
    • 4-6 Videonale Exhibition Proposal, 6/23/2014
    • 4-7 Chicago Cultural Center Application and Planning Documents, 7/9/2016
    • 4-8 Chicago Cultural Center Exhibition, 7/9/2016
    • 4-9 Chicago Cultural Center Press Materials, 7/9/2016
    • 4-10 Indiana University South Bend, 1/9/2017
    • 4-11 Terrain Biennial, 10/1/2017

Additional Materials

  • Archive Bin 3

    • 4-8#140 Drawing Instrument: Line, Black & White Painted Foam Pole, 2016
  • CAE Box 56 Objects

    • 4-7#57 Studio Notebook for Chicago Cultural Center, 2016
  • CAE Box 237 Large Objects

    • 4-8#139 Prototype for Drawing Instrument, Cheesecloth and Plaster Portion of Foam Pole, 2016
  • CAE Box 267 Large Objects

    • 4-8#137 Residency/Performance Notebook for Chicago Cultural Center, 2016
  • CAE Flat File F3

    • 4-7#58 Test Images for Chicago Cultural Center, 2016
    • 4-7#59 Wall Plans + Test Images for Chicago Cultural Center, 2016
    • 4-7#60 Floor Plan + Test Images for Chicago Cultural Center, 2016
    • 4-9#13 Chicago Cultural Center, July 9 – September 27, Paul Catanese: Visible from Space, Poster, 2016
  • Stand Alone Box Standing Rack 11C

    • 4-8#138a Stanchion and Pole with Exchangeable Attachments, Painted wood, 2016
    • 4-8#138b Exchangeable Attachment, Metal Hook, 2016
    • 4-8#138c Exchangeable Attachment, Metal Screw Eye, 2016
    • 4-8#138d Exchangeable Attachment, Forged Steel Machinery Eye Bolt, 2016
    • 4-8#138e Target Disk with Plastic Attachment Screw, Plexiglas and Paper Applique, 2016
  • Textile Rack

    • 4-8#141 Aerial Targeting Pattern for Chicago Cultural Center, Canvas, 2016

CAE1610/5 Series 5: Presentations, 2012-2019

Series 5 contains presentation related materials including presentation slides and notes.
  • CAE Box 105

    • 5-1 International Sculpture Center (ISC), 10/6/2012
    • 5-2 International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), 11/5/2014
    • 5-3 College Art Association (CAA), 2/15/2017
    • 5-4 Colgate University, 4/4/2019