Ships Passing in Ohio’s Night / Hyperallergic

Aspen Mays, “Ships That Pass in the Night” (2013) at COR&P (all images courtesy of the artist)

Aspen Mays, “Ships That Pass in the Night” (2013) at COR&P (all images courtesy of the artist)

CHICAGO — Ohio. It’s not all cornfields, protesters, and lost highways. From Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s song “O-H-I-O” about the 1970 shooting of Kent State students to fascinating and devastating cities like Elyria, a once-thriving steel town, Ohio is an example of American economic and cultural production and destruction.

Artist Aspen Mays must have known this when she took a job as Assistant Professor of Artat Ohio State University in Columbus. Splitting her time between Los Angeles and Columbus, Mays’s work — which probes humanity’s desire to understand the infinite, unknown universe and those awe-inspiring mysteries of outer space — seems to fit in perfectly amongst these open starry skies.

Her latest project, Ships That Pass in the Night, is both an actualization of the limitations of a landlocked location and a technologically inspired leap into vast bodies of water and the neverending internet. True to the title of the project, Mays pinpoints when ships pass each other in the night. The project acts as a metaphor for those moments of synchronicity that, unbeknownst to us, are happening everywhere. Mays worked with Ry Wharton, the director of the Center for Ongoing Projects and Research (COR&P) in Columbus, to create custom software that tracked the moments when ships passed each other. When these momentous driftings occurred, a light panel located inside COR&P would glow bright, and a printer would record the ship name and its exact location. Mays and I synched up to talk about her project.

Read the full interview on Hyperallergic: