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Sergio Vega's Paradise on Fire 5 (2007), photograph

Sergio Vega, who was born in Argentina and now lives in the foresty middle of Florida, has been working on a project called Paradise in the New World for 10 years.

Using his own writings—in voices from academic to confessional—plus photography, sculpture, and video, Vega goes in search of the promised paradise. He treks to the area of Brazil where explorers once said this paradise could be found (pictured above, in a 2007 fire), and he looks at our estranged relationship to tropical paradise as moderns, often distinguishing between First-World and Third-World definitions of modernity.

The parrot phone is one example of modern systems mimicking natural ones. A talking bird becomes a talking machine.

Vega's newest additions to the project, photographs and a video of two men who discovered and worked in the Brazilian gold rush of the 1970s, are on display at the young contemporary art space Open Satellite in Bellevue, in an exhibition curated by Pablo Schugurensky. Facing off with the Bellevue gallery's gigantic window wall is a blackout curtain cut to look like a giant silhouette of a jungle canopy.

Vega sits down in the gallery and talks while his home—or at least his home town in Florida—is burning.