The Drift presents: Michael Jones McKean / Rivers

August 1st – 9th, 2016
Various Locations
Pittsburgh, PA

Gullies eroded into the wall of a meteor impact crater in Noachis Terra. This high resolution view (top left) from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) shows channels and associated aprons of debris that are interpreted to have formed by groundwater seepage, surface runoff, and debris flow. The lack of small craters superimposed on the channels and apron deposits indicates that these features are geologically young. It is possible that these gullies indicate that liquid water is present within the martian subsurface today. The MOC image was acquired on September 28, 1999. The scene covers an area approximately 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) wide by 6.7 km (4.1 mi) high (note, the aspect ratio is 1.5 to 1.0). Sunlight illuminates this area from the upper left. The image is located near 54.8S, 342.5W. The context image (above) shows the location of the MOC image on the south-facing wall of an impact crater approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) in diameter. The context picture was obtained by the Viking 1 orbiter in 1980 and is illuminated from the upper left. The large mound on the floor of the crater in the context view is a sand dune field. The Mars Orbiter Camera high resolution images are taken black-and-white (grayscale); the color seen here has been synthesized from the colors of Mars observed by the MOC wide angle cameras and by the Viking Orbiters in the late 1970s. A brief description of how the color was generated: The MOC narrow angle camera only takes grayscale (black and white) pictures. To create the color versions seen here, we have taken much lower resolution red and blue images acquired by the MOC's wide angle cameras, and by the Viking Orbiter cameras in the 1970s, synthesized a green image by averaging red and blue, and created a pallete of colors that represent the range of colors on Mars. We then use a relationship that correlates color and brightness to assign a color to each gray level. This is only a crude approximation of martia

The Drift is pleased to announce Rivers, a newly commissioned project by New York and Virginia based artist Michael Jones McKean beginning August 1st, 2016, and concluding August 9th, 2016.

The culmination of over two years of research and development, Rivers is a durational sculpture composed of nine precisely determined actions engaging specific locations, objects and people in defined temporal and spatial proximity within Pittsburgh’s three river system. In the work, ‘river’ exists both as a literal manifestation, but also as a spectre, framing each action inside a set of cascading mythological, archeology, historical and geological circumstances. Here, ‘river’ exists expansively as both a subject weighted with associations, use-values and politics, but also an object wholly unknowable to us – a form of alien complexity vastly superseding our limits of understanding.

All actions of Rivers will be in public, some without notice and others with invitation to the public. Each action will be preceded by a brief announcement, some containing precise details of when and where the actions will take place.

More expansive details of each action of Rivers will be forthcoming – the summary is as follows:

001  the 1818 book The Navigator, gifted and entered into permanent circulation of the Mt Washington Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

002  human bone inserted inside a boulder on the banks of the Allegheny

003  a baroque flower arrangement

004  a human hand making contact with the JEOL JEM 1400 Transmission Electron Microscope at the Center for Biologic Imaging

005  a human hand making contact with the 30” Thaw Refractor telescope at the Allegheny Observatory

006  a small bonfire on the banks of the Monongahela with driftwood compiled from around the world

007  a rainbow produced over the Ohio River for 500 seconds

008  a large piece of lead recovered from a sunken 17th century sailing vessel, melted into the bow of a small water craft on the Monongahela

009  a text message sent from a remote location via satellite phone to a receiving device in Pittsburgh

For more information, please visit The Drift’s main website


About the Artist

MICHAEL JONES MCKEAN (b. 1976, Micronesia, lives / works New York City) is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Nancy Graves Foundation Award and an Artadia Award. McKean has been awarded fellowships and residencies at The Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The MacDowell Colony, The International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York City, The Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program in New York City.

McKean’s work has been exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston: Parc Saint Leger Centre d’art Contemporain, Nevers, France: Horton Gallery, New York, NY: The Quebec Biennale, Quebec City, Canada: Gentili Apri, Berlin, Germany: The Art Foundation, Athens, Greece: Inman Gallery, Houston, TX: Parisian Laundry, Montreal, Canada: Project Gentili, Prato, Italy: Shenkar University, Tel Aviv, Israel: The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX among many others.

McKean is currently an Associate Professor in the Sculpture + Extended Media Department at Virginia Commonwealth University where he has taught since 2006 and is Co-Director of ASMBLY based in New York City.


About The Drift

H3O - OO2 - Gergo Kovacs - aquamorph (1) (1)
Photo Credit: Gergo Kovacs, Aquamorph, 2015, commissioned by the Drift for H3O/OO2

The Drift is an artist-run platform for temporary art that explores bodies of water as a context, site, and material. Since 2012, they have worked with resident artists and collaborative groups to produce a range of projects and events on the three converging rivers in Pittsburgh, PA.

Artistic Directors

Scott AndrewScott Andrew is a Visiting Professor within the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University where he received his MFA in 2013. He has worked as a fashion instructor at the Andy Warhol Museum, co-producer of Trans-Q Television, and as a co-founder of the Institute for New Feeling. Scott has previously been a fellow of PIttsburgh Filmmakers Flight School, and his work has been exhibited at MIX NYC, Envoy Enterprises, Geffen Contemporary, Anthology Film Archives, The Kinsey Institute, The Center for Sex and Culture, and The Andy Warhol Museum. As a co-founder and artistic director of the Drift, Scott worked with resident artists, collaborative groups, and partnering organizations to produce a platform for site-specific, public-oriented, media-based artworks to be deployed on the rivers of Pittsburgh, PA. As a part of The Drift, Scott has produced monthly event-based programming such as mobile video screenings, live theater, floating sculptural spectacles, as well as large scale projects for festival contexts.

Steve GuryshSteve Gurysh is a multimedia artist who has exhibited work internationally in galleries, festivals, and public spaces.  He is the recipient of numerous awards including a Creative Development Grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation, a Professional Development Fellowship through the  College Art Association.  Gurysh received his Master’s of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University.  and has exhibited projects in places such as La Société des arts technologiques in Montréal, Canada, The Engine Room in Wellington, New Zealand, The Sculpture Center in Cleveland, OH, Cabinet Magazine’s Exhibition Space in Brooklyn, NY, and the center of the Allegheny River. As a co-founders and artistic director of the Drift, Steve Gurysh has worked with resident artists, collaborative groups, and partnering organizations to produce a platform for site-specific, public-oriented, media-based artworks to be deployed on the rivers of Pittsburgh, PA.  As a part of The Drift, Steve has produced monthly event-based programming such as mobile video screenings, live theater, floating sculptural spectacles, as well as large scale projects for festival contexts.

Rivers is a project developed through a residency at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University, and made possible by the generous support of the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation. The project is produced with support and goodwill of many individuals and institutions including: The Center for Biologic Imaging, The Allegheny Observatory, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center, The Mount Washington Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Carly Smittle and Reggie Wilkins, Laila Archuleta, Christine Davis Consultants and many more.