From July 20 through August 31, visitors to the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park can experience artist Rimas Simaitis’s project Island Fever. Island Fever allows park visitors to communicate with the island through an on-shore radio that transmits a signal to the Zittel structure by way of two smaller, floating satellite islands. The smaller, outlying islands are equipped with an audio system designed to create vibrations and ripples in the water so visitors hear and see their messages travel across the lake to Indy Island. Simaitis prompts visitors to reflect on cosmic relationships and diplomacy at an onshore phone booth, and to transmit their messages through the radio system in order to initiate contact.
During Simaitis's residency, Indy Island is outfitted with a HAM radio station, a radio-telescope constructed from a beach umbrella and an empty pineapple can, a variety of antennas, and a radio spectrograph. He uses the spectrograph to capture images of the transmissions that are shared on the Indy Island blog. At scheduled times Simaitis will invite visitors to the island in order to transmit their messages into outer space, listen for signals from extraterrestrials, and to try and communicate with amateur radio operators around the world and satellites orbiting Earth, such as the International Space Station.
Rimas K. Simaitis (b. 1983) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. His areas of research have included islands, space and relations between geography and culture. He developed an interest in radio transmissions when learning how Reggae music formed on the island of Jamaica. Due to the proximity of Miami and New Orleans to Jamaica, the island could receive the distinct music being broadcast from these cities. As a newly independent nation in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Jamaican islanders sought to form a new identity through music. Influenced by the radio broadcasts, they first developed an upbeat Ska style, but the hot weather eventually slowed down the tempo so the islanders could dance more comfortably—ultimately creating Reggae.
Simaitis’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum; the New Wight Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles; the Roots & Culture Contemporary Arts Center in Chicago; SOIL in Seattle; and the Boise Art Museum. Simaitis holds an MFA from University of California, Santa Barbara, and two BAs from Seattle University.