August 13, 2009
written and posted by Heather McShane
Aspen Mays was a visiting artist at Ox-Bow while I was taking a class there last month. When she was at Ox-Bow the previous year, she decided to put fireflies in the body of her camera to see what the results would be. (Who thinks to do that? Isn’t that alone great?) Despite the fact that the fireflies were inside the camera, they continued to try to communicate, by flashing. Or did they? It’s interesting to think about what they could see, what they understood, even what they didn’t understand and didn’t try to understand. You can see some jpgs of her firefly photos here.
You can also view some examples of her other work on her site, including part of a video of a small lawn chair attached to weather balloons that she sent up into the atmosphere with the help of the Adler Planetarium. This video was inspired by a man called Lawnchair Larry, who created his own aircraft using a lawnchair and weather balloons and then took flight in 1982. My favorite part of Aspen Mays’s video is the insistent clicking of the Geiger counter at that moment when the balloons and the lawn chair first reach an incredible height. I also like how ordinary the lawn chair is, how metaphorically human.