There are two exhibitions currently on – Warhol at Firstsite Gallery in Colchester and Other Worlds at the Natural History Museum in London. Both are great shows, one small and intimate, the other more epic.
The Warhol show is an intelligent collection of some of his death-themed imagery over a period of about three decades – notably the Electric Chair series and several portraits as well as the ubiquitous pink cow wallpaper.
Electric Chair series – the changing moods of death.
Marilyn Monroe, 1962 – from full colour glamour to fading grey non-existence.
The Other Worlds exhibition, by Michael Benson, is a show of images made from visual data collected from robotic spacecraft over a period of six decades. Benson creates his amazing planetary landscapes from assembling the black and white raw frames sent back by the spacecraft, often stitching together hundreds of them and adding colour through filters.
The earth is a living orb surrounded by swirling climates and weather energies.
Mars looking like carved wood.
Mars passes across the sun – pupil or master? Which is which?
What do these shows have in common? They are formed by meticulous observation and categorization of available data, either cosmic or cultural, into finished images which reflect back the intricate facets of life not visible to an ordinary eye.
Christ, $9.98, 1985-86, acrylic paint and silkscreen on two canvasses.
They are both probing the non-visual world through the visual, enabling us to see more than we can understand without intense thought. The Warhols are deceptively probing and sensitive works which belie their mass consumer references and the Bensons reveal a world of privileged information which photography alone is able to deliver. Benson is the scientific/artistic descendent of Doc Edgerton – who also produced art from science using ultra high speed photography. Both men reveal hidden and inspiring new worlds, pushing back technical frontiers of the photographic medium.
Frosted Mars dunes in winter.
Both exhibitions will show you something new and unexpected about the world.