Hot Air Balloon

by Emily D. Adams (MFA 2011)
Paradise is the Persian word for Garden. Its literal translation is a ‘walled enclosure,’ and has been handed down from sometime around 4000 BCE through the Egyptians and the Moors, to the Spanish medieval cloister and the Italian Renaissance, changing in styles and scope like the English Gardenesque, the botanical, and the mighty National Park. With all its otherworldly connotations, it’s interesting to me that the origin of the word, paradise, and the history of the garden, imply a human hand in the creation of these spaces.

study, oil on paper
study, oil on paper

In preparation for my thesis, I am developing work that explores the theme of the garden through different configurations of aerial landscape photos and floral still-life. I’ve also been painting from film stills of singing women — a seemingly disconnected endeavor that will hopefully evolve in tandem.

In Vincent Desiderio’s painting seminar, we will be watching films by the great Soviet filmmaker, Andrei Tarkovsky. In the opening to his Passion According to Andre Rublev, a young man escapes from the roof of a church in a hot air balloon. As viewers, we are shown the aerial perspective of 15th century Russian landscape. It is a view, unthinkable for the time the film portrays, that returns throughout the movie as a metaphor, perhaps, for the perspective the artist is able to reach through his wild creative faith. But his faulty technological innovation, the hot air balloon, brings him crashing down after a brief moment of escape from the earthen world.

The scene reminds me of Daumier’s lithograph of Nadar flying above Paris in a hot air balloon, taking photos from the sky. Below the image, he writes ‘Nadar, elevating photography to the height of art’. If I’m not mistaken, Nadar’s were the first aerial photos ever taken, the second cousin thrice removed of Google Earth. While Daumier’s caricature may be a cranky prod at the day’s new media, I wonder if the artist himself might not be just a little bit moved by images of ‘space-ship earth’ and the capillary system that brings the Seine from the Alps, through Paris, to the English Channel.

For reference, I’m looking at my collection of airplane photos—all those grids and circles of American farmland—and wondering how I might translate them into paintings, and why. And, speaking of lithography, I’m also exploring the aluminum plate in John Jacobsmeyer’s printmaking class as another substrate for farms and flowers. Agricultural fields seem to be just another addition to the lineage of gardens; but then, farmland can also be considered a contemporary paradise, in keeping with the etymology. They’re a lot like roses: common, maybe taken for granted, a static image of something that has been changing with human innovations for quite a while now.

study, oil/ink-jet print on canvas

1 comment:

  1. as a mapper that is the way I see the world everyday... awsome work!