Saturday, November 2, 2013

Views of Africa

Where: Air and Space Museum

When: through February 16, 2014

This exhibit is put up in conjunction with the "Earth Matters" show at the African Art Museum.  I don't remember any information about this display when I went to see "Earth Matters," but it's possible I read something about it, and just forgot.  I'm always happy to see references to other exhibits when I go to a show; it's very helpful for tourists to know that if they liked one display, there are others they might also enjoy.

This is a collection of satellite photographs of earth, featuring the continent of Africa.  As the wall notes tell us, "Applications of aerospace technology and expressions of fine art both provide new views of the world around us."  Very true, and a connection not often made.  It's a combination of style and substance: useful information packaged in gorgeous images.

It occurs to me that Air and Space really has quite a bit of art in its collection, although the vast bulk of what it owns seems to be very large, heavy objects suspended from the ceiling.  I'm never entirely comfortable walking around there, as I fear one of those rockets is going to make a final journey, right onto my head.

Setting aside my timidity (let alone my distaste for large crowds of screaming boys), this is an interesting show, especially if you like photography.  The images provide lots of information about the continent and how increasing industrialization is changing the landscape.  My favorite piece is something entitled "Rivers Flow to the Sea," a Landsat 7 Satellite image.  It looks like a painting, with the gorgeous blues of the rivers and the Atlantic Ocean.

The show does have an actual artwork, meaning something created by an artist, rather than by a satellite.  It's called "Core," and it's by Jeremy Wafer.  It focuses on the underground, so it reminded me of the "Earth Maters" show, and its several works about the underground.  The work is a set of 54 "logs" that are meant to represent core samples used to study layers of soil.  There is one for each African country and each is slightly different, showing the diversity of soils and landscapes in the continent.

Verdict:  Not your typical Air and Space show, but if you like a little art with your airplanes and rocket ships, this is the show for you.

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