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Inspirational Arts


On Exactitude in Science
Alan Butler

On Exactitude in Science is a two screen video installation, featuring a synchronised presentation of Godfrey Reggio’s KOYAANISQATSI 1982) & Alan Butler’s KOYAANISGTAV (2017), with a running tome of 1h 27m.

On Exactitude in Science takes its name from the Jorge Luis Borges short story, Del rigor en la ciencia (1946). This passage describes an ancient, fictional civilization that creates a 1:1 scale map of their territory. Borges, who annotated this text under a pseudonym, in fact based the work on an extract from a Lewis Carroll work first published in 1889.

Using two video screens, this installation comprises the Godfrey Reggio motion picture KOYAANISQATSI (1983), presented in synchronicity with Alan Butler’s shot-for-shot remake KOYAANISGTAV (2017). The work by Reggio was chosen by Butler as a cultural artifact, and a paragon of the most popular visual media of the 20th century, film. The original motion picture does not follow a formal screenplay as such, instead embodies a poetic, pictorial mode of documentary film-making. Using KOYAANISQATSI as a screenplay itself, Butler has transposed this work into a new form using the virtual worlds within the Grand Theft Auto video game series.

About the Artist

Alan Butler’s work explores material and philosophical ideas about how imagery and meaning function in technologically mediated realities. His subject often ties together the cultural dogma that underpins visual languages, with algorithmic modes of being in western capitalist societies. Educated at LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore (2009). and the National College of Art and Design, Dublin (2004).

He is a member of the collective ANNEX who will represent Ireland at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2020.

Recent activities include solo exhibitions The Need To Argue In The Master’s Language, Visual Carlow, Ireland (2018); Down and Out in Los Santos, Malmö Fotobiennal, Sweden (2017); HELIOSYNTH, Green on Red Gallery, Dublin (2017); We Were Promised Anarchy, But What We Got Was Chaos, Solstice Art Centre, Ireland (2015); and group exhibitions Open World: Video Games and Contemporary Art, The Akron Art Museum (2019); Digital Citizen: The Precarious Subject, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, UK (2019), Weird Capitalism, Transfer, New York (2018); Back to the Future, C/O Berlin (2018); SITUATIONS/Posthuman, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2018); States of Play: Roleplay Reality, FACT, Liverpool, England (2018); As Above, So Below, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2017); Les Rencontres d’Arles, France (2017).

Alan Butler’s work is in the collections of IMMA – the Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Office of Public Works, Ireland, The Arts Council of Ireland, and Trinity College Dublin. He is represented by Green On Red Gallery, Ireland.


Originally Commissioned by IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2017.
An edition of this work is in the Collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchased 2018.

Koyaanisqatsi (© IRE 1983, All Rights Reserved)
courtesy of Godfrey Reggio and the Institute for Regional Education

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