8 October 2008

Loving the alien

"A recurrent scene in sci-fi movies shows the earth withdrawing from the spacecraft until it becomes a horizon, a beachball, a grapefruit, a golf ball, a star. With the changes in scale, responses slide from the particular to the general. The individual is replaced by the race and we are a pushover for the race­ a mortal biped, or a tangle of them spread out below like a rug. From a certain height people are generally good. Vertical distance encourages this generosity. Horizontality doesn't seem to have the same moral virtue. Far away figures may be approaching and we anticipate the insecurities of encounter. Life is horizontal, just one thing after another, a conveyer belt shuffling us toward the horizon. But history, the view from the departing spacecraft, is different. As the scale changes, layers of time are superimposed and through them we project perspectives with which to recover and correct the past." (Brian O'Doherty, Inside the White Cube, 1976)

"In London, the Barbican's spring show The Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art opened only a day after the latest incarnation of the Carnegie International - at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art - which was subtitled Life on Mars. The two shows proposed superficially different uses of the metaphor of extraterrestrial life to reflect on contemporary artistic practice, yet underlying these apparent differences, one could detect common themes that are now strongly influential in Western culture - that of a pessimistic apprehension of impending disaster; a profound sense of uncertainty and disorientation regarding human society's claim to progressive agency; and a kind of post-historical estrangement from the experience of modernity. What drives these, however, is a now common theoretical and political celebration of what might be called the Absolute Other. Along with the more recently opened mega-show After Nature at New York's New Museum, these shows all share a peculiar critical operation - the use of a strategy of displacement of the human subject from which to ‘look back' or ‘look from afar' on human life..." (JJ Charlesworth, Any Other But Our Selves, 2008)

[22/5/09 this link just in from overthenet]

Image: Mark Bradford, Help Us, 2008, on the Carnegie ROOF

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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.