An Arts Council Collection National Partner Exhibition
2018, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
At Altitude is a selective look at the historical impact and the continuing appeal of the aerial image. Ranging from the exhilarating viewpoints of early aviation to the all-enveloping but flattening vantage point of Google Earth, the exhibition charts these changing perspectives, illustrating how the wonder of the overhead view was transformed through advances in technology as altitudes became higher and horizons more distant.
An illustration from Thomas Baldwin’s book Airopaidia (1786), “A Circular View from the Balloon at its greatest Elevation” sets the context for At Altitude. The drawing is considered to be one of the first ever ‘real’ aerial views, describing Baldwin’s one day in the air over Chester in 1785. The aerial potential of the local landscape, famously often depicted from an elevated position by Eric Ravilious, provides another source of inspiration. The exhibition then focuses on recent decades, looking at increasingly technological mediations of the landscape, the role of conflict in the elevated view, and how changing methods of observation have inspired and informed artists.
Bringing together works in film, video, photography, sculpture, painting, drawing and installation the exhibition features artists including Jananne Al–Ani, Michael Andrews, Ken Baird, Tacita Dean, Charles and Ray Eames, Simon Faithfull, Mishka Henner, Dan Holdsworth, Kabir Hussain, Peter Lanyon, Christopher R. W. Nevinson, Cornelia Parker, Carol Rhodes and Wolfgang Tillmans, alongside a new installation created by Timothy Prus of the Archive of Modern Conflict and a site-specific commission for Towners Collection by Annabel Howland.
Bournes, Deans, Bottoms and Brows, Installation view, Annabel Howland, 2018
Photos by Rob Harris.
This work was generously co-funded by the Mondriaan Fund of the Netherlands.
Given Space/Devil’s Mountain, 2015. Size: 330cm x 275cm
GIVEN SPACE / DEVIL’S MOUNTAIN (2015)
As part of his project Given Space (Gegeven ruimte), photographer Jan Theun van Rees installed a large print on my studio wall of a photograph he took inside a geodesic dome on Teufelsberg, Berlin.
The assignment? To do with it what I will.
I did. It was fun.
Given Space/Devil’s Mountain, 2015. Size: 330cm x 275cm
Jan Teun worked with 14 artists in this way. In March 2019, Jan Theun's photographs of the resulting collaborations were exhibited in the exhibition Gegevenruimte in Baggage Hal, Loods 6, Amsterdam
Drains, Cables, and Cuts is a photographic/video installation by Annabel Howland consisting of Howland’s signature cut-out images, a series of related landscape photographs and (a first for the artist) a digitally animated film.
Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Norwich School of Art and Design, it is a work on the theme of landscape and technological innovation produced as part of Silicon Fen, a three-year programme of artists’ projects supported by Arts Council England East. This staging of Drains, Cables, and Cuts at King's Lynn Arts Centre, (14 January to 25 February, 2006) received additional support from the Mondriaan Foundation and the Fonds voor BKVB.
The focus of the project is the landscape of the East Anglian Fenland, rendered as a complex network of lines through the lens of a camera or a series of highly tactile cartographic abstractions. From the ground, the flatness of the Fens makes everything appear in relation to a vanishing point or an ever-present horizon line. From the air, however, this unique landscape reveals itself as an intricate, evocative space of overlapping lines and contours. The paths of old watercourses visible in the soil diverge from their contemporary counterparts or converge with other features, such as physical or administrative boundaries.
For her digital animation, Howland cut out aerial photographs of the Fens so that only watercourses, clouds and the shadows of clouds remain. These fragile images were then matched to their corresponding locations on a photographed map. The map had also been extensively edited so that only numbers remain and words and names that relate to water, light or measurements: Hundred Foot Washes and Twenty Foot Drain; Bridge, Dike, Lode and Leam; Gowt and Gote and Fifties and Forty; Marsh, Mere, Moor, Cut, River, Outfall. All this was further overlaid with brightly coloured contours derived from a soil chart of the area. These composite images were then animated into a 3D ‘fly-through’ along key Fenland waterways, down adjoining cuts and creeks, beginning and ending in The Wash.
Alongside this animation are two series of photographs. One, photographed from the ground, draws our attention to the lowness of the land, the line of the horizon marking the limit of what we can see or know. Stripped of the other features of the landscape, the intersecting lines (roads, tracks, railways, waterways, boundaries) in the large cut-out photographs come to occupy and define space almost architecturally. Oscillating between object and image, these works suggest an action that continues beyond their edges.
ROADLINES & SITELINES
The road is frequently a metaphor for forward movement, progression, signifying human control over time and space. In Roadlines (2000) and Sitelines (2003), the planes between and around the markings and mends on the road have been meticulously cut away. This arrests the infinite movement of the road leaving its lines suspended and drawing the viewer’s gaze to places where something had once been. The directional lines of the painted road markings are the signs of the road’s function, while the wavering black lines of tar used to mend the cracks signify its fragmentation, its failure.
This photograph was taken when flying across the USA. It shows a large area of land where a network of huge, snaking rivers and tendrils of forest intersect with the ruthless geometry of gridded agricultural fields.
This artwork was unveiled by Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam, on Friday 19 November, 2004, on the occasion of the official opening of the St Lucas Andreas Hospital (SLAZ) in Amsterdam.
The underlying structure for this work is provided by a map of the area in Amsterdam West around the St Lucas Andreas Hospital. Howland carefully erased the background from the map, while leaving all the lines and markings intact. Into this she digitally inserted cut-out aerial photographs of the same area to form a delicate and complex montage of cartographic and photographic details. Running down the centre of the work is the map’s representation of the A10 Ring motorway, which divides early 20th-century, pre-war expansions of the city inside the Ring from postwar developments outside the Ring.
Although the photographic elements correlate with their locations in the map, the viewpoints they present allow viewers to read the images in different ways. From a distance you can identify the structural organisation of this part of the city, while closer examination allows you to explore unusual angles of recognisable places or become absorbed by intricate details.
SLAZ was formed by the merger of St Lucas Hospital, at this location, and Andreas Hospital, which was demolished soon after the photographs for this work were made. Perspectives was commissioned by SLAZ to mark this moment in the hospitals’ histories.
WEST is a glass balustrade that stretches around three sides of the central hall of the St Lucas Andreas Hospital (SLAZ) in Amsterdam. It forms a screen between the staff restaurant on the first floor and the public space of the hall below.
The photographic elements are extracted from photographs of the area around the hospital in Amsterdam West taken from a helicopter and on the ground. The coloured planes are derived from a topographical map of the area. In our passage along the screen from Rembrandt Park on the left and Erasmus Park and a sports field on the right, we move through vertical shots and bird’s-eye views of this part of the west of Amsterdam in 2002. Passing along different planes of colour we see cut-out pieces of Sloterplas (lake), railway tracks, Amsterdam Docks in the distance, SLAZ under construction and major building work near the A10 motorway in Bos and Lommer.
West was commissioned as part of the transformation the hospital underwent when the St Lucas Hospital at this location merged with Andreas Hospital, now demolished.
The balustrade is 45 m long and 0.95 m high and was commissioned by Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst.
Trebesice Tracks (2004) was commissioned by Alberto di Stefano for what is now called Suite B - “The Corner Room” at Chateau Trebesice, near the Czech town of Kutna Hora.
To make Trebesice Tracks I chartered a small plane and took aerial photos of the area around Trebesice. The image was then enlarged, printed onto a single piece of thick vinyl, cut out and pinned to the wall. The opening of Trebesice Tracks was accompanied by a solo show Stay at Futura, Prague.
See also: Kersvers at Club 11