Basile Gallery, Herron School of Art
and Design; through March 31.
Curator Flounder Lee was once an
aerospace engineer at the University of Alabama, before becoming an
assistant professor of photography at Herron. According to Lee, he
left aerospace engineering because it was too heavy on economics and
not theoretical enough. The work of the three artists featured in
Aerospacial reflects the curator’s hot and cold
relationship with aerospace engineering.
Sam Davis exhibits panoramic photos
which depict astronauts acting like the Beat Generation: they wander
around a moon-like desert with their helmets off, smoking cigarettes,
lost, and looking up to the sky for their life purpose. One picture
features an astronaut engaged in heavy petting in a seedy lounge.
McLean Fahnestock’s video piece
“Grande Finale” emphasizes the legacy of enduring images
from the space program's launches. The title suggests a fireworks
show. The video is a mosaic of all 134 shuttle launches occurring
simultaneously, evoking a NASA control room. The launches appear
almost identical, for Fahnestock has compiled the same angles and
footage of each step in every shuttle’s launch sequence. The
Challenger launch stands out starkly.
Darren Hostetter departs from the space
motif and presents paintings of bombers and drones arranged into
snowflakes, kaleidoscope projections and textile patterns. In one
work, a school of bomber-drones is seen swimming in the deep sea: to
observe a robotic bombing machine given a place in the natural order
of things makes for a jarring image. Interestingly, Hostetter makes
the bombers from recycled aircraft aluminum.
One hesitates to call the show a loving
memorial to aerospace engineering; instead it forces us to ponder its
central purpose, its legacy and its place in the natural order.