Artes Mundi and Space Balloons

Yesterday I happened to look in on the Artes Mundi exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff. There were quite a few nice and interesting works (such as the film from which the image below is taken), but none of them felt really exceptional to me.

A still from 'per speculum' by Adrian Paci.

Then later that day I came across this story. A man who wanted to take some aerial photos of his house attached a digital camera to a helium balloon and eventually ended up with these amazing pictures of the Earth.

One of Robert Harrison's aerial photos.

The tag line at the Artes Mundi exhibition was ‘One World, All Humanity‘ but for me, looking at these pictures and videos of the Earth were a far more powerful statement about what our world is.

This obviously isn’t the first time people have taken pictures of the earth from above, and as Robert Harrison says in the BBC interview NASA have been doing this for years. I was also reminded of this art film of a hot air balloon ascent made by Yoko Ono in 1970. But these professionally produced documents only reinforce our viewing experience as simply that of a spectator. We have all used digital cameras, handled them, carried them with us, and have a thorough experience of using them. Putting one of these cameras several miles above the earth resulted in images that for me, were far more personal and affecting than anything I happened to find on the walls of that art gallery earlier in the day.

images via Saatchi Online and flickr

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About jackwestmore

Jack Westmore writes music for film, television and media, and is currently based in Cardiff in the UK.
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