Kim Gaul – Artist Statement

ufo illustration by kim gaul

Describing the Unidentified: UFO drawings

U.F.O. stands for unidentified flying object. When a person sees an object flying in the air, he or she attempts to identify it with a word like bird, plane or balloon. But when a person sees an object in the air flying and cannot readily say what it is, he or she tries to describe the object based on other objects with which he or she is familiar: the object was flying and it looked like, not a plane, but perhaps a very large dish or disc or Frisbee.

When I hear the three letters U F O, my brain conjures up the image: a saucer-like vehicle from outer space piloted by aliens who may or may not be friendly. But what if the unidentified flying object that I may end up seeing in the sky is not at all this shape and is either a very odd shape or a readily identifiable object? Would anyone believe me? Either way, saucer or chair, or flying candy, someone would try to explain rationally the phenomenon, as I would rationally describe my strange visual event!

So thinking about our human need to describe and identify and our ability to only really describe something unknown by relating them to known things, I have come up with a drawing series in three parts.

Part 1: The unidentified object. The drawings here are attempts to describe objects seen flying in the sky but are not readily identifiable or are sort of identifiable but too strange to be a normal flying thing (plane, helicopter, typical flying saucer). The shapes I used for the unusual objects are actually dog toys. Dog toys are described with handwritten accounts as if they were seen flying in space.

Part 2: The identifiable flying object. These are things that one would readily know but don’t look like typical UFO saucer. A flying chair, mailbox, lamp that are definitely flying and not being blown by the wind. So, a person sighting the flying chair could say, “it was a chair!” But it would still be in the realm of outer space vehicle because why would it be flying and how. And, no one would readily believe it happened as well, the sighter would probably question his or her vision.

Part 3: (in process) Believe: What I know about UFOs and outer space aliens comes from TV and movies and books. Therefore, there are a lot of presumptions about what a space creature is, looks likes, and wants from humans. I intend here to draw UFO things I know that come from pop culture like space beings either come in peace or come to kill humans. They come to study us or swipe our Earth resources. They are super smart because they could come up with a ship that can take them farther than just a neighborly moon. More to come with this part of my 3 part series.

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