Site 02 Announcement

Lapedo Valley
Portugal, Europe

Michael Jones McKean Studio, in deep cooperation with Fathomers in Los Angeles, excited to announce Abrigo do Lagar Velho as the second site in artist Michael Jones McKean’s long-form planetary sculpture Twelve Earths. This rock shelter, visited and occupied by humans for tens of thousands of years in the Lapedo Valley of Portugal’s District of Leiria, contains one of the most significant archaeological findings of the past century: the 29,000-year-old remains of a ceremoniously buried four-year-old child whose discovery helped change our perceptions of what it means to be human.

For full press release information: Português | English

For additional information, please contact:
[email protected]

Site Announcement

LSST 5 Lecture

Balkans, Europe

Michael Jones McKean will be giving a talk in Poreč, Croatia for the LSST @ Europe5: "Towards LSST Science, Together” conference. Michael will be sharing his work and research as Artist-in-Residence at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory as it connects to Twelve Earths writ large.


Site 02 Announcement Teaser Video

We made a short teaser using some ultra-rare Hi8 archival footage for Twelve Earths’ next site announcement.

Site Announcement

Many Worlds Hypothesis

[ID: An slightly blurry and warped image of a skeleton on a rocky ground reflected vertically.

Beyond the narrow sliver afforded by our sensory perceptions of the world, the universe remains unknowable. Yet our ability to look up and out begs an eternal question: what else is out there? An answer for some, and a thought experiment for others, is posed in the quantum hypothesis of 'many worlds:'

The interpretation explains that our act of observation forces a quantum state to appear resolved, positing that there are additional worlds created for each and every quantum possibility as yet to be realized. So, as you read these words you maintain continuity along a central arc, but from this arc a cascading procession of perpetually forking paths emerges—tiny, minuscule variations creating complete and separate universes. A number of possibilities so vast as to seem infinite.

For a longer, trippier dose, take a spin into our research portal.


An Island

In the center, far off in the distance is the island, Little Rock, Palau. It is surrounded by light blue water and crystal clear sky.

In choosing the project’s twelve locations, so many factors were considered. Perhaps most fundamental was simply striving to connect together diverse expressions of Earth molding itself morphologically by way of terrains, landmasses, and ecologies. In this process of naming Twelves Earth’s ring path, an ‘island’ felt necessary. Here’s a taste of our research entry for 'an island:'

“An Island is landmass completely surrounded by water. The exact number of islands on Earth—ranging in size from Greenland to Palau’s Little Rock (pictured)—is unknown, though it numbers well into the millions. Of these millions, only about 11,000 islands are known to be inhabited by humans.”


Site Visits Update

Twelve Earths Ring

Even as Twelve Earths lives day-to-day as a conceptual scaffold to explore our relationship to Earth, it’s also deeply grounded in the world by way of its 12 physical, and very real locations. Over the last few years, encounters with these places (still only one announced publicly) have existed multivalently: from spirited and emergent relationships with people to speculative geo-poetic field work. Along the way there’s also, of course, documentation. Here’s a few meta shots at some of 12E’s locations—documenting the documentation.

Site Visit

The Intelligence of Wind

Behind an empty couch, an ocean view open window, the wind enters to bring the white translucent curtains into motion.

This morning, windows open, the bedroom alive with movement and sensation: a breeze. As Twelve Earths evolves, the invisible but unimaginably alive and energetic force of wind will play an important role. Here’s our research entry for 'The Intelligence of Wind:'

”We can describe the forces and conditions that create wind, but at the scale of one’s body, from within our envelope of skin, wind remains magical. Standing in a room, sheer curtains billow. An invisible wrap of coolness shrouds our faces, the smallest hairs alerted, the salty meniscus of our eyes caressed. Moving through the petrochemical fibers of clothing, wind finds contact with hidden-away skin. In a room, the breeze finds forgotten voids, discovering the space’s secret meta-volume. At once, the dust, the spiders, the shadows beneath the couch, and the life-smears above the headboard become known to the wind. Its intelligence is total. The curtain exhales and the wind dissolves, roving elsewhere.”



Fragments of bones laid out on a plain grey surface, parts of a pelvis and legs, the lower half of a human being perhaps.

Our flesh-bodies are scaffolded by a stony, lithic structure: our bones. This morphic substance, aggregated as 206 discrete objects within us, is a material reminder that we are Earth; descendants of its primeval, mineralized, and rocky reality.

And with evidence of the Earth inside us, our practiced skill at objectifying Earth as something external to us remains a puzzle—one that risks so much when left unexamined. At its core, the aliveness we feel is not something extracted or separate, but is the aliveness of Earth itself.

Over the last six years, ‘bones’ have existed as a query within Twelve Earths’ cosmology. In the weeks ahead, we’re excited to share a bit more with you as it builds toward a new site announcement.



Tethered to a white line, a triangular kite soars above, its rainbow checkered pattern against the clear blue sky.

As the day of our birth nears, so does a celestial alignment – the Earth crosses the identical location it did on the day of our planetary arrival. We celebrate this moment the world over as a ‘birthday’. Birthdays are biographical crossings we celebrate with gatherings, gifts, and food with loved ones. But even as our birthday is personally singular, its celebration is shared in unison with 21 million other people on Earth, all born the same day. And whereas the phrase “I’m turning 7” connotes shedding our previous age, perhaps we might lean towards imagining our ages as sedimentary; our bodies holding at once all the ages we ever were. You are still 7.


Site 02 Announcement Teaser

A new Twelve Earths site announcement is on the horizon.

Site Announcement

Berggruen Institute | Multi-Species Constitution Project

Los Angeles, California
U.S.A., North America

Michael Jones McKean will be participating in the Multispecies Constitution Project Meeting 1: a two-day event consisting of workshops, breakout sessions, art exhibitions, and more, serving as the kick-off meeting for the two-year-long Multispecies Constitution (MC) Project. The MC Project is a two-year collaboration between the Planetary Governance and Future Humans Programs at the Berggruen Institute.


Site Visit: Vera C. Rubin Observatory

Cerro Pachón & Tololo
Chile, South America

Michael captured some process shots recently in Chile at the summit of Cerro Pachón, while at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory shadowing operations as their teams work toward first light. Shown here is the uncrating, cleaning, and surface testing of Rubin’s M2 Mirror. The mirror is cast and honed glass with a meniscus-thin coating of silver on its surface. Although the M2 is the largest convex mirror ever made, it is Rubin’s 'small' mirror, optically mated with the much larger M1M3 at 8.4 m/28.5 ft in diameter.

Site Visit


A black and white, low-angle shot of the avant-garde musician, Albert Ayler, playing the saxophone with their body slightly contorted, a microphone in the upper right hand corner.

In a world composed of many other worlds, realms, and portals, we require ‘mediums’ to help us navigate the spaces between them. In this role, a ‘medium,’ is literally what's in between: a vehicle for psychic journeying. Wherein Albert Ayler might be considered a medium himself, his saxophone (the Selmer Mark VI) was a medium, allowing him entrance to under and over worlds. Here’s a taste from our research portal:

“The concept of ‘medium’ is ubiquitous within the arts, existing as a simple shorthand for the material with which one might use to make a work of art. Though normally despiritualized in everyday use, at its core, the idea of a medium is much stranger, enchanted, and more deeply central to artistic practice than simply choosing between paints, wood, or a saxophone. A medium is a necessary in-between, a communicative conduit to and from the realms an artist visits. Through practice, a medium allows an artist entrance to a world beyond, but it is also the tool with which to communicate the journey. To re-imagine the term 'medium,' we by proxy must also reimagine the role of artists within shared, communal life — in the process discovering, or rediscovering, the foundations for newly spiritualized practices.”



Twelves Earths’ internal clock is coded to astronomical calendars and rhythms. As such, we’re within a calendric envelope marking both the longest and shortest night. But being a sphere, Earth has spent every second of its life basked equally in one half light, and one half shadow.

David Abram, in the first chapter of his book Becoming Animal, begins with a lucid respooling of shadows on Earth. In his poetic offering, he writes: “Night is the name we give to the shadow of Earth (...) Facing away at sunrise, I see that as the night slips away it leaves behind a slender part of itself, a splinter of dusk reaching from my body.” A shadow is “a shard of residual night,” one “we carry reminding us of the deep, inextricable, mystical hold our bodies have toward the nocturnal.”

So, on this longest of nights, after appreciable and appropriate forms of revelry are partaken, let us sleep and dream well in the shadow of Earth.


LSST 4 Lecture

Italy, Europe

Michael Jones McKean will be giving a talk at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome, Italy for the LSST @ Europe4 conference. During his session, McKean will open up his research and thinking into the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, building upon the concept of its parallel life, one seated within a group of objects that through time have expanded our capacity to ‘see.’ Seeing not only in the optical sense, but as related to a much larger and emergent cosmovision of the world, and our lived experiences within it.


Announcement Website

Last week we announced the first site along Twelve Earths’ ring path: Cerros Pachón & Tololo in Chile’s Andes Mountains. In parallel, we also inched into the world a new site page that lives within the project’s website: just the first chapter of a much deeper, more interconnected story at this special place.

Site Announcement

Site 01 Announcement

Cerro Pachón & Tololo
Chile, South America

Michael Jones McKean Studio, in deep cooperation with Fathomers in Los Angeles, is pleased to announce Cerros Pachón & Tololo as the first site in McKean’s long form planetary sculpture sculpture, Twelve Earths. Nested above the cloud line in Chile’s Andes Mountains, Pachón and Tololo, are twin peaks gathering a cluster of intensely powerful observatories. Taken together, they are among the most mythic and powerful scientific instruments humans have made; a complex of 20 international astronomical telescopes, including the famed Victor M. Blanco Telescope, SOAR, Gemini South, as well as the one of the most powerful observatories on Earth, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory which will see 'first light' in 2025.

For full press release information: Español | English

Or, for additional information, please contact:
[email protected]

Site Announcement

Artist-in-Residence, Vera C. Rubin Observatory

Cerro Pachón & Tololo
Chile, South America

This Fall, coinciding with the announcement of Twelve Earths’ first site, Michael Jones McKean will inaugurate a 5-year Artist-in-Residence with Vera C. Rubin Observatory on Cerro Pachón in Chile’s Andes Mountains. The position will enable McKean to work at the summit along with scientists, technicians, and systems engineers. McKean’s efforts will produce a body of work and writing, culminating in a sculptural work at the summit that will sensitively consider the uses and histories of the site.


Equinox Announcement Teaser

5 years to reach this point—6 days til announcing Twelve Earths’ first site.

September 22 2022 | Equinox


Lecture | Session Leader

Tucson, Arizona
U.S.A., North America

At the Rubin Project & Community Workshop held at Dove Mountain’s Ritz Carlton in Tucson, Arizona, Michael Jones McKean led a session titled, “The Vera C. Rubin Observatory as Cultural Metaphor.” The session zoomed out from the conference's more granular and highly technical panels to consider Rubin more speculatively within a lineage of aspirational objects that humans have gathered together to make over time.