Today I installed my most recent work in the Apothecary (a student-run gallery at UTC). The theme of the show is Weightlessness. If you know me, you know I’m a bit of a nerd for sci-fi. Lately, I’ve been all up in some BSG. I’m finishing up my GenEd with an Astronomy class this semester, which is proving to be equal parts challenging and interesting. Given all of this, it just made sense that my work would be deep space oriented.
For my work, I began researching communications logs for NASA Gemini and Apollo missions. They are available for free download at the NASA website. They’re gorgeous on their own merit; they’re scans of typewriter-written transcripts of ground-to-air communications.
I read through one of the transcripts from the Apollo 13 mission, and found myself mesmerized by it. I expected to find a log riddled with jargon I didn’t know, but instead what I read was incredibly human. It gave me chills at times to read their conversations. This particular transcript did not contain the infamous Apollo 13 disaster, but instead was a log of their initial take-off and first day in orbit. The whole log was full of wonderful snippets, but found a particularly interesting bit of dialogue between Commander (CDR) James A. (Jim) Lovell, Jr., Command Module Pilot (CMP) John L. (Jack) Swigert, Jr., and Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) Fred W. Haise, Jr.
This really struck something within me; it read almost like poetry. The best I can figure from the log is that ORDEAL had something to do with the camera they were trying to mount. As you can imagine, trying to Google search “Apollo 13 ORDEAL” only returns a lot of Tom Hanks.
Anyway, I knew that the line “your blood rushes to your head because your heart doesn’t have anything to pump against” was something I definitely wanted to work with.
I came across the work of Antoine de Villiers, a very talented figure painter. He recently created a short series of beautiful paintings called “Weightless.” I chose one of his paintings and abstracted the form, removing certain parts, adding others and vectorizing it in Illustrator. I then found some license-free deep space images on Wikimedia Commons of the Crab Nebula and the Omega Nebula. I chose to use Archer as my typeface because its hairline weight is one of my favorite things. Ever. The type is so thin and, well, weightless, that from a distance you only get a hint that something is there, and are quietly asked to move in closer to engage with the piece and read its message. The final printed piece is 19×15 inches, so the type is legible upon close inspection, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve.
The whole composition came together quite nicely, I must say. The show opens tomorrow, February 17th at 5:30 pm at the Apothecary, 744 McCallie Avenue, Suite 113 The Doctor’s Building Chattanooga, TN 37403. Feel free to come by and check out not only my work, but the excellent work of my classmates, designers, photographers and painters alike.