Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kim Adams' "Travels Through the Belly of the Whale"

That conversation John and I had on the HO nickel gauge was a detour. He was telling me about the exhibit of Michelangelo drawings at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and being a discussion with me, the conversation detoured again to how the Dundas streetcar runs by the gallery :-) making the AGO very easy to get to. And I even had a picture conveniently posted at my blog from my visit last year to see the Kim Adams exhibit. This stroll down memory lane reminded me, among other things, that I didn't do justice to Kim Adams' piece Travels Through the Belly of the Whale - shown in the lead photo. I still had several photos that didn't get included in the post that helped to better show what was going on with this thing.

Here's how the AGO describes the work,

Measuring 16 feet by 13 feet, Travels through the Belly of the Whale, installed in the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium, is a repurposed silver grain silo that contains a secret. Through various windows and funnels in the silo, visitors can catch a glimpse of a meticulously constructed farming community inside, featuring miniature boxcars, tiny figures and model parts. The presence of this fictional world is given away only by the moving electric train that continuously circles around and through it.

I've never been much for official interpretations. If I find something visually interesting I'd rather just spend sometime looking at it and not bother with what the gallery, critics or even the artist thinks it is. 
The more I look at it, the more it reminds me of the Apollo command and service module shown above.
It's got a large window where, if it actually were the Apollo command module, the lunar module would be docked as the ship travelled to the Moon. 
This is what you see when you look in that window. There's a flat model train board spanning the sides with, as the AGO description notes, a farm. The track is a rectangular loop where the curved arcs leave the module and circle back via track in the 'wings'.
There's also a smaller window in the end where the Apollo service module's rocket engines would be.
That window offers a closer view of the internal train board.
There's the train zooming thorough the countryside. I thought that the module housing - the Apollo command and service module part - was interesting and intriguing, but what the viewer is invited to see is not quite up to the promise (Mr. Adams other HO-based work at this show, Artist's Colony (Gardens), and his dioramas at the Diaz gallery in the summer of 2013, were more up his high standards). But, maybe that's the message: the prosaic everyday world wrapped in an enticing technological wrapper; pragmatic agricultural concerns at the centre of technological flash; simplicity at the core of the complex; excursions into the unknown always returning to roots. I don't know. Whatever the message was it was still worth seeing.

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