3.5 Stars

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.


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