Jonathan Bruce Williams

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Artist Statement

The colonization of life by technology is an alien invasion, a close encounter of the third kind, with clear and present repercussions that are forming a new biology. I invent structures that are rudimentary bodies — physical entities that stand as an assembly of artificial organs. Their common function is the display of video, animation or other repeatable phenomena; what they encourage is the close observation of pseudoscientific experiments.

Genuine forms of life are grown in these imitation ecosystems, and they provide a symbolic content that motivates the manufacture of specific structures. The installation Third Nature (2015) is a garden for English Ivy, an invasive species carried to America by European colonists. Planted to grow over a model, suggesting space as the final frontier of colonization, Ivy is a species that mimics the intrusive nature of humanity’s overgrowth.

Open System (2015) is an architectural habitat for a yellow canary named HAL, a member of a species historically employed as a sacrificial animal sentinel. Life support systems provide HAL with food and water, while an automated iPhone tries to teach him to sing its ringtone. The biopolitical suggestions in these works attempt to frame humanity as the carrier of a powerful technological contagion, a virulent commodity that drives economic growth.

A cellular logic is a key approach in my work, as the replication of a cell is related to the mutation of my ideas. During the design and fabrication of these projects they divide themselves into possibilities for future works, and this self-similarity has led to increasingly elaborate constructions. A cell is the building block of life, a replicating automaton that structures a living organism, although the logic of the cell also organizes technology through networks of devices such as the cellular-phone. My projects attempt to direct such automated materials, from microprocessors to microorganisms, towards self-sufficiency as sculptural systems.




2015       Columbia University, MFA Visual Arts

2008       Minneapolis College of Art and Design, BFA Photography

2007       New York Studio Residency Program. Brooklyn, New York


2014     Anti-Newton. Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Minneapolis, MN.

2012     Sighthouse. Franklin Art Works, Minneapolis, MN.



Organic Situation. Koenig & Clinton, New York, NY.

fl0ating p0int. Judith Charles, New York, NY.

Columbia MFA Thesis Exhibition. Fisher Landau Center for Art, New York, NY.


Columbia MFA First Year Exhibition. Wallach Art Gallery, New York, NY.


Who Wants Flowers When You’re Dead? The Poor Farm, Little Wolf Wisconsin, WI.


Northern Spark Festival. Minneapolis, MN.


Jerome Fellowship Exhibition. MCAD Gallery, Minneapolis, MN.


Shoot the Moon. 1419 Gallery, Minneapolis, MN.


2014     Mildred’s Lane Fellowship & Residency

2013       Dean’s Travel Grant, Columbia University

2010       Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists

2010       Artists’ Initiative Grant, Minnesota State Arts Board

2009       Finalist, Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists

2008       West Photo Merit Scholarship for Photography, MCAD


2015       Williams, Jonathan B. “Interview with Liz Deschenes.” Third Rail Quarterly.

2012     Williams, Jonathan B. “Dish Fulfillment.” WOPOZI

2010       Williams, Jonathan B. “The Seventh Seal of Cinema.” Art Review & Preview.


2014       PRX/KUMD Duluth Public Radio, Radio Gallery Interview, 9 March.

2012       Thorne, James. “Sighthouse.” Cool Hunting, 24 October.

2012       Riddle, Mason. “Forward into the Past.” The Star Tribune, 13 September.

2012     Marosi, Marty. “The Sight Keeper.” Minnesota Daily, 6 September.

2011       Thomas, Jonathan. “Jonathan Bruce Williams.” Jerome Fellowship Catalog.