Albert Einstein once said, "After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in aesthetics, plasticity, and form.” Indeed, rippled lines of vibrant yellow sand dunes (recorded by the SPOT I and Landsat 4 space satellites over Yemen) are not so distinct from the bold swathes of color rendered by Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky in the 1910s. Nor are the geometric squares captured by Landsat 7 of Brazilian rainforests so different from early 20th-century forms of cubism--all about color and the manipulation or breakdown of complex elements into forms and structures.
This is really what satellite imagery can do--give us a big-picture view while, at the same time, providing us with the nitty-gritty details. Didn't realize that satellites had such artistic "eyes"? Well, it helps that their subject is the most flawless and fascinating model in the universe. Resplendent in rich greens, blues, yellows and reds, Planet Earth is the star of our Earth from Space (EFS) exhibition, touring the country through March 2010.
The University of Northern Iowa's museum doesn't host the exhibit until next month, but Cedar Falls residents have already been inspired by this marriage of art and science, technology and creativity. A precursor to the SITES exhibition, "Iowa Up Close" features 100 photographs of the state, from its lakes to rivers to farms to fauna.
Earth from Space "really shows you a unique perspective of the world," said Romney Hall, spokesperson for the museum. "So with 'Iowa Up Close' we wanted to do the same thing for our state." Photographers could submit works in several divisions--the same thematic categories in EFS: Water and Air, Living Planet, Structure of the Land, and the Human Presence. Many participants entered more than one shot in more than one category. Marnell Lyle, for one, entered a picture of mist rising off a lake in George Wyth State Park as well as images of recently cultivated farmlands and cattle farmers. "Part of the fun of doing it," she noted "was doing an intellectual analysis of what each particular photo represented and how it could symbolize the themes." Lyle and her fellow participants seemed particularly interested in capturing the here-and-now. "If development comes through," said one teacher "we'll be able to have these photos to remember what the land looked like."
Top honors in the contest (for each category, including adult and youth) were awarded yesterday. Check out the photo album in the left column! Want to know more?
See the satellite images with your own eyes. Go to the EFS website and take a virtual tour!