20 July 2008

Eight easy pieces for tourists

Art from Space is going on honeymoon for the next few weeks and will be back in August. We'll be visiting some of these places while we're away and will be introducing some new Art From Space contributors on our return. Until then, in no particular order, here's some virtual travelling for you:

Looking like a Martian landscape, ULURU, often referred to as Ayers Rock.

Not sure why but the STATUE OF LIBERTY was one of my first pieces of google travel several years ago.

I like a good shadow on google maps to provide an interesting perspective on primarily vertical structures that wouldn't otherwise be too interesting from above. The Thames almost looks like concrete and provides a great surface for sharp shadows, including this great anamorphic rendering of the LONDON EYE.

Responsible for putting the Spanish industrial town of Bilbao squarely on the traveller's map, here's Frank Gehry's GUGGENHEIM.

Originally built as a temporary structure for a world expo, perhaps explaining its daring style, the EIFFEL TOWER was originally hated by Parisians but is still going strong.

Given the usual marginalisation of contemporary art as an activity, I've always been puzzled by is the immense popularity of TATE MODERN, which is one of London's top tourist attractions. How often do the people visiting the Tate engage in the arts when they're at home, and why would they spend the hard-earned holiday time doing something that ordinarily doesn't interest them? Same goes for the LOUVRE, which is the first structure I've found so far that lets you see through a window.

On the Zambezi River on the border between Zambie and Zimbabwe, here is the VICTORIA FALLS, considered the largest waterfall not because of height or width but because it has the largest sheet of falling water.

15 July 2008

Echoes from the sky

Since first seeing Disinformation's photos of them in the catalogue for David Toop's 2000 Sonic Boom exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, I've always been intrigued by the sound mirrors near Dungeness, and eager to visit if an opportunity ever arises. Meanwhile, they definitely warrant a GOOGLE VISIT. More are scattered around the South-east coast of England and were built from as early as 1914 to amplify listening ability to up to 20 miles. Intended to provide early warning of an aircraft attack, they were soon superceded by faster aircraft and radar. I see there has been talk of resurrecting these and, using new technology, building a counterpart in France - was this ever done?

Portable versions were also developed, including the fearsomely named Japanese War Tuba. There are some great images of the acoustic mirrors here, and more about sound weapons on the Stalker blog here, here and here. As Stalker notes, this kind of weaponry is still quite contemporary and rather scary. But could be fun in the hands of an artist though. I'd love to see (hear) focussed sound being projected from hot air balloons. Thanks to James Pinker, who alerted us to this latest development with rather insidious implications if put in the hands of unscrupulous marketing people. At least the crap cannon has been shown to be an urban myth!

7 July 2008

The Sound of the Suburbs

This interesting one came over the Audio Foundation list a few days ago... The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (defra) have been recording towns and cities all over the UK to produce noise maps so you can see, and preserve, the quality of noise in your neighbourhood. The resultant maps are based entirely on the volume of roads, rail, airports and industry but, as this blogger has argued several times, the project makes the assumption that all noise annoys (apologies to Pete Shelley). Aside from the psychedelic surroundings, Buckingham Palace (see image, bottom left) is looking pretty tranquil. As noted in stalker's comments, the Schafers would be fascinated.

2 July 2008

The China Syndrome

I've been doing a little reading about apocalypse movies in advance of next week's exhibition, The Swarm. Whether it's attacking insects, tomatoes, tidal waves or aliens, according to a text by Kim Newman, most of these films are a symptom of anxiety about the bomb. As Newman puts it The China Syndrome (1979) "takes its title from the facetious term for what would theoretically happen if a nuclear reactor went into meltdown - the plutonium would eat through the world and turn up in China."

I couldn't help thinking of Maddie Leach's Andalucía 2007 project earlier this year at Te Tuhi. With a little help from some contractors and bored.com, She dug a hole in the gallery courtyard and emerged in a Spanish olive grove. You can try it for yourself here by zooming into your chosen hole location and then clicking on the map. If LAKE TAUPO really had no bottom, you could swim to a strange looking island just out of CASA DE PERABAD, halfway between Seville and Madrid.

The China Syndrome is about a nuclear plant on THREE MILE ISLAND, Pennsylvania. According to bored.com's hole-digging service, a meltdown would actually leak through to HERE, in the ocean about 1000km south-west of Perth. So we're not so safe from nuclear catastrophe in the South Pacific after all.

Image: Maddie Leach, Andalucía (detail), 2007. Excavated hole (1m x 2m), earth, tarpaulin, fencing mesh and waratahs.

1 July 2008

Serra from space

Once more following the lead of overthenet, currently at large and posting art missives from around the world, I decided to hunt out some Richard Serra works and see how his iconic structures bare up to the harsh truth of the satellite eye. For starters HERE is the work overthenet have just cycled through (cheers for the plug M&J).

Also in Germany, Bramme for the Ruhr District in Essen shows up as little more than an enigmatic SHADOWY WISP in the large clearing it is sited on. It seems this expansive setting photographs well, and this account suggests that the mound is in fact part of the work - note the scale of the work as indicated by the tideline of graffiti.

TORQUE has an impressive traffic-directing placement in the middle of a South German University campus. This one also has a graffiti tideline (see picture above).

Here is EL MUR in Barcelona. Someone asked me earlier this year whether it makes a difference whether I know these sites other than on cyberspace. I suspect it's more interesting and intriguing if I only know them as aerial-digital representations, but I'll report back if I bump into El Mur, or any other alien art, later this month.

TERMINAL in Bochum, Germany, also has been placed to stop traffic. The nice thing about this one is that the aerial view provides an interior.

THIS one is Iron Mountain Run in Connecticut.

Famously, Tilted Arc is long gone, but THIS is where it once stood. And then there is the 38-tonne sculpture that somehow disappeared from a Madrid museum. One of his largest works, Te Tuhirangi Contour, is situated just north of Auckland, but the entire private estate it resides on is MYSTERIOUSLY BLURRY.

It seems Serra translates well to satellite and I could keep going with more examples. But lastly, SEA LEVEL seems perfect for the google traveller. Not only does it reward horizontal scanning, it has an inherent reference that helps the viewer situate it vertically in relationship to its surroundings, something that is usually lost from this angle. I'll let this website do the explaining:

"Sea Level (1996), located on the outskirts of Zeewolde, is situated on either side of a canal. From the adjacent dikes, there emerge two concrete walls which are placed at a diagonal to the canal and in alignment with each other. The viewer mentally connects these two walls with each other, creating an imaginary segment of wall that runs straight across the canal. The top edge of the wall is at sea level; a fascinating interaction arises between the wall, the top edge of the dike and the surface of the water in the canal."

Meanwhile, back on overthenet, they have now noted another monument-al work, which is yet more in the vein of straight-up-as-high-as-you-can-go. The result when given an aerial view, as will eventually be demonstrated HERE, is that there isn''t much action in any other axis .


Art from Space is an exploration of art-related phenomena that manifests in interesting ways on Google’s aerial maps. It is also an experiment in curatorial practice; collecting, presenting and contextualising items in ways that users can explore, free of curator-imposed framing and sequencing. This blog is Art from Space’s developmental musings made public, where items are introduced to the project in real time, rather than awaiting the grand unveiling of a completed exhibition. Specific locations of interest are highlighted in CAPS and linked to a map for further exploration. Visit the mother ship HERE.