30 May 2009

How low can you go

Recent adventures had us primed for an exploration of the world's tallest towers but we couldn't resist a little more spelunking. A recent email (thanks again, JR) introduced us to Guatemala's 330-ft deep GIANT SINKHOLE (described here and here). And then we found our work had been done for us, thanks to this handy list of Large Holes by Virtual Tourism, which we will shamelessly borrow from:

MIRNY DIAMOND MINE, Siberia is the largest open diamond mine in the world and is visible from an extraordinarily high altitude.

KIMBERLEY Big Hole, South Africa is apparently the largest ever hand-dug excavation in the world.

This grainy VIEW doesn't offer much so we'll have to take their word for it that Belize has one of the better Blue Holes (image above). The deepest is Dean's BLUE HOLE, nearby in the Bahamas.

The Monticello Dam's GLORY HOLE spillway is used to drain the reservoir when the dam is at full capacity and creates an impressive negative space within a negative volume.

Lastly, we'll stop at the inverted mountain of BINGHAM CANYON MINE, Utah, begun in 1863 and supposedly the largest man-made excavation on earth. It has plenty of the classic MOTIFS we've admired before and, seemingly occupying two time zones, a nice dusting of SNOW at one end. Being in familiar SPIRAL JETTY territory, we thought we'd have a look around the Great Lake and found no shortage of salty eyecandy, including HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

27 May 2009

Paradise junction

Like John Hurrell, we've often pondered the middle-of-the-road wetland RESERVE established during the recent redevelopment of Auckland's central motorway connections. At first there was just a lot of soil being moved about, excavating a negative space while creating a corresponding mound. Then it was planted, watered, and made functional. It seems artist Cellulite Rose has beaten us in claiming this curious civic piece of earth work as art.

Image: Publicity photo for Cellulite Rose's Island Resort, 2009

24 May 2009

Secret smile

Here's another one from a reader: Flying over Taipei, home to well manicured PARKS, GARDENS AND MEMORIALS, interesting INDUSTRIAL and RESIDENTIAL configurations, swimming POOLS, monumental TOWERS, car PARKS, and other things we enjoy, it seems there are a FEW places that need to be HIDDEN from view. (Thanks JR)

Image: The sinister smile of the secret 'clownface' organisation's HQ

19 May 2009

Tunnel Vision

"[Ralph] Hotere was sitting beside the train driver, staring straight ahead as the train hurtled through the landscape then vanished into the blackness of the first tunnel. Then, just as suddenly, theywere catapulted back into blinding light. Then they hit another tunnel. As the artist described this journey he closed his hand when he mentioned the darkness of the tunnel then his fist sprang open when he mentioned daylight. [...] This sporadic immersion in darkness is what makes the visible world come alive, what makes it vivid and even profound; just as the stretch of daylight is necessary for the darkness of the tunnel to work its inverse magic."

Gregory O'Brien recalls Ralph Hotere sitting up front from Dunedin to Palmerston in After Bathing at Baxter's, 2002.

All this talk in the news of potential tunnels in Auckland reminded us of the extraordinary effect created when trying to navigate through Mt Victoria TUNNEL in Wellington using Street View, a curious phenomenon brought to our attention in the comments of Public Address. It's a bit like flying through the intro sequence of Dr Who.

Art From Space has long been interested in finding ways to unfold the 2-dimensional upper surface facade of the map; to somehow burrow within the information, breaking into the matrix, if you will. So our latest addiction is spelunking through the entrances and exits of the world's subterranean roads. Starting local, here are BOTH ENDS of the Lyttelton tunnel, including Peter Beaven's iconic toll BUILDING featured in Long Live the Modern.

With a little help from Wikipedia, here is a quick tour of the world's road tunnels. With six lanes and a good collection of popular culture cameo parts, HERE is the Lincoln Tunnel, which runs under the Hudson river to connect New Jersey with Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan. Le Tunnel Sous la manche, or the CHANNEL TUNNEL, has the longest underwater section but no street view yet. Unfortunately there is also no street view or enough resolution to sight the architecture and sculpture that heralds your entry into the Mont Blanc Tunnel, providing a trans-alpine route between Italy and France. At 24.5km, the longest is Norway's Lærdal Tunnel, although there is very little MAP VIEWING yet but we look forward to seeing the sequence of caves added especially to keep drivers amused and alert. One of the longest in Asia is the Hsuehshan Tunnel, which runs from HERE to HERE and has its own FM radio station. Opened in 1897, London's Blackwall Tunnel displaced more than 600 houses, including an alleged former home of Sir Walter Raleigh, and has several sharp bends, apparently included either to keep horses from bolting when they re-encountered direct light, or to avoid tunneling through black death burial grounds. Starting from BLACKWALL (where the ROOFS are impressively landscaped) it brings you out near the MILLENNIUM Dome HERE.

Speaking of tunnelling to the millennium, we would reminisce for a bit about watching Irwin (The Swarm) Allen's The Time Tunnel but a lack of age would make that a fabrication. But we are rather fond of the literary wormhole (wordhole?) Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries have created between North and South Korea. The border town of Pal-Pan Dong is presumably just an artful figment , although it is hard to tell with so little of Korea (North and South) marked on google maps. They have info on the DMZ bus tour here (it takes a while) and here, or you can cruise the BORDER yourself, noting what are presumably military installations all the way along and looking for tunnels.

Within the DMZ you will find just two villages, Daeseong-dong on the South side HERE, and the allegedly uninhabited Kijong-dong in the North HERE, with lights turning on and off but nobody home, and sporting the world's tallest flagpole. As has been reported in the LA Times, google maps has done wonders for opening up North Korea to virtual tourism - bring on the duty free.

Image: The HOLLAND TUNNEL entrance, close cousin to the Lincoln, features on the cover of Yo La Tengo's 1997 album, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.

16 May 2009

Mind the Gap

“[These works] capture western capitalism on the grandest scale; the landscape seen from outer space. The landscape from this perspective is slightly mysterious. Describe circular irrigation to most people and they will immediately recall the kind of crop circles depicted in extraterrestrial movies and conspiracy theories. There is usually a ready explanation to this kind of enigma: in the instance of circular irrigation it is purely the pattern created by irrigation sprinklers which enables these abstract and slightly haphazardly constructed landscapes.

“[Adrian] Jackman has worked from public domain satellite imagery in Google Maps. The quality and amount of visual information available varies considerably in this popular web application, enticing the imagination to postulate on unseen spaces. This is of course a technical constraint of the photograph but one that does not exist in painting. For the painter, this lack of visual information represents an opportunity: to capture the available information and successfully fill in the gaps.

“Gaps have at one time or another invoked imaginative responses in us all. Whether it be cracks in the pavement or the narrow spaces between domestic decking floorboards. In this new series Jackman has witnessed gaps in the landscape, constructing a collection of intriging new compositions that are certain to strike an imaginative chord with his audience.”

Matt Blomely on Adrian Jackman's exhibition Mind the Gap at Lopdell House.

Image: Adrian Jackman, The Agrarians, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 1220 x 1524mm

14 May 2009

Sweet imitation

Cheryl Bernstein's blog, has noted a local business appropriating art from its immediate environment for their own marketing use; in this case it's Neil Dawson's CHALICE. As we have already seen here on AFS, public art and puddings are not such a strange mix (let's not forget this other example in Christchurch).

Despite their scale, the light-handed way Dawson's works define space make them a ghostly presence on the landscape and hard to find from above. His iconic work FERNS in Wellington, despite its much-reproduced presence in local marketing, is barely a shimmer and a shadow. (While you're in Civic Square, note that City Gallery's pre-construction incarnation lives on in google maps.)

The Len Lye Foundation's WIND WAND (street view HERE), now commonly seen in all manner of local marketing, attracted many tributes when it first went up. For a period, there seemed to be an imitation Wind Wand in every back yard. Although the intention was mostly irreverent, one can't complain when a substantial portion of of a provincial city start making their own kinetic sculptures from found objects: bendy PVC pipes capped with gumboots, modified washing lines etc. Dawson doesn't seem to mind a little DIY either, and this website even has a build-your-own sphere page.

But let's not forget Hallensteins' much more cynical handling of being called up for its appropriation of John Radford's TIP sculptures in Ponsonby Park, defended by law firm Hesketh Henry who are also trying to market themselves as art lawyers. Some people want to have their cake and eat it too.

Image: Here we give thanks to Lye (bamboo and crystal vase - don't tell Mrs ArtFromSpace)


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.