Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spiritual Travel

In past few weeks, I have noticed a few travel ads around London that share a similar visual model. Both feature a person's face rendered slightly transparent, a landscape stretching out in the background. Each one speaks in spiritual language; they speak of an interior life, the heart, the soul.

I have seen that Eurostar has created the same visual model for different destinations (I've seen an add for Provence, a visual billboard that actually moves, the winds of travel gusting through). These ads thus make the rail service seem to be a type of guru/enabler -- leading you to the core of a distant place. These ads very smartly play on the sentiment I've definitely felt of discovering a new city, the excitement of travel and enjoying the unfolding of the unknown.

I have to say that I rather like the idea, and find the advertisements appealing (did they come from the same ad agency? or did two people have the same idea?), yet, it is funny to step back and gain a little perspective.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Iceberg, Straight Ahead

Herbert George Ponting (1870-1935), 'Grotto in an Iceberg', from the portfolio of Scott's Last Expedition, The British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913, 5 January 1911. Carbon print transferred from the British Museum. (V&A Photographs Gallery)

On this 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic - the supposed unsinkable ship struck an iceberg before midnight on this day in 1912 - I wanted to share an image of an iceberg from another tragic expedition. It seems, whenever there's ice, tragedy ensues. What is chilling (pun intended?) is the fact that this photograph was taken just a year earlier.

On display in the Victoria & Albert Museum in their Photograph Gallery, the caption reads: Pointing was the official photographer for Captain Scott's tragic final expedition.* He endured sub-zero temperatures to document the beautiful but treacherous and uncharted Antarctic. In his book The Great White South(1921), Ponting recalled discovering this cavern: 'A fringe of long icicles hung at the entrance of the grotto and passing under these I was in the most wonderful place imaginable.'

The image, for me, is both wondrous and foreboding. An incredible natural formation, dominantly removed from civilization, the ship dwarfed in the distance by the frigid cavern.

So you can see the Titanic parallels.

*A journey to the south pole from which none of the explorers returned. Ponting, the photographer, had returned earlier to prepare his photographs and film from cinematograph for Captain Scott.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Scream

A rather comic image of Edvard Munch's The Scream (now on display at Sotheby's London) that appeared in Metro in London today. I especially enjoy the mirroring of the anxiety in the work itself by the art-handler on the left. This painting could easily break records at auction in NYC in May.