Aereality: On the World from Above

Aereality: On the World from Above

by William L. Fox
     
 

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William Fox’s writing for the last several years has been focused on how we construct aerial views, either physically (by flying) or in our imaginations.
In Aereality, he flies over earthworks in Nevada and Utah, soars through the world’s largest open pit mine, and surveys Los Angeles, circumnavigating large swaths of true American urban

Overview

William Fox’s writing for the last several years has been focused on how we construct aerial views, either physically (by flying) or in our imaginations.
In Aereality, he flies over earthworks in Nevada and Utah, soars through the world’s largest open pit mine, and surveys Los Angeles, circumnavigating large swaths of true American urban sprawl. On the East Coast, he examines the elevated art of the Hudson River Valley and New York City. And finally, in Australia, Fox examines the history and current practice of both Euro-Australian and Aboriginal aerial views, and searches for the cognitive roots of our aerial imagination.
Accompanying Fox throughout his travels is a rolling cast of enlightened fliers: geographers, museum curators, landscape photographers, anthropologists, and artists. He traverses the sky in prop planes, helicopters, and hot air balloons, all with the ultimate goal of knowing and experiencing the earth from the air.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fascinating, ultimately frustrating meditation on how humans visualize their environment, poet and author Fox (Terra Antarctica) considers the sweep of human history, art and technology. Largely concerned with how modern artists, particularly photographers, use the aerial perspective, Fox first flies with photographers Michael Heizer and David Hansen over the deserts, open-pit mines and military installations of the American West, describing their post-modern experiments with perspective, light, color and angle. He also joins Heizer and geographer Denis Cosgrove for aerial tours of the Los Angeles basin, comparing past and present aerial views of planned suburbs from the 1950s. Back East, he joins Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art director Joe Thompson for a trip over post-9/11 New York, and a discussion of the artists who had studios in the World Trade Center towers. Fox's last destination is Australia, to examine and contemplate the paintings of Aborigines, which are almost always aerial landscapes. Though dense with ideas and the philosophy of human geography, this panoramic study is repeatedly undermined by inadequate illustrations, including a paucity of reproduced art works (of the dozens Fox discusses, just 16 are included) and, most aggravating, a complete lack of route maps. 16 color plates.
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Kirkus Reviews
A poet and scholar meditates on the unique physical and metaphorical perspective offered by an aerial view of the world. Fox (Making Time: Essays on the Nature of Los Angeles, 2007, etc.) has thought deeply about "the aerial imagination"-how we perceive terrain, organize land into geometries and rearrange it, becoming the most transformational force on the planet's surface, "surpassing rain as the worldwide shaper of land late in the twentieth century." The author structures his narrative around three flights: over the American West, the Hudson River Valley and Australia's southeastern quadrant, three territories sufficiently diverse to support his wide-ranging observations. His analysis is part historical, invoking explorers John C. Fremont and Alexander von Humboldt and alluding to events as disparate as the Dust Bowl and the construction of Australia's remarkable Dog Fence; part environmental, detailing the depredations of military bomb sites, mining operations and urban sprawl; and part technological, explaining how the evolution of flight and photography have led to the wonder, for example, of Google Earth. More than anything, he examines how artists have complicated aereality, making unexpected visual correspondences and adding another dimension to literal cognition. From informed discussions of anonymous Aboriginal paintings, to celebrated artists like Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Stieglitz, Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria and Andy Goldsworthy, to a number of lesser-known moderns, Fox is persuasive in his claim that aereality is, at least in part, a "search for the Divine." If the author's treatment seems too idiosyncratic-preciouseven-it's due largely to the strangeness of his topic. In the end he proves a likable and patient guide. An enjoyable examination of the "God's Eye View."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582434292
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
03/01/2009
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

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