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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Bathos of Gravity: Simon Faithfull

Jessica Griggs writes:

Since childhood, Simon Faithfull has had a problem with gravity. Why could flies crawl across the ceiling when his feet always stayed firmly earthbound?

This fascination never waned. Now an artist, his recent work revolves around his attempts to escape gravity's relentless grip.

Gravity Sucks, an exhibition at the British Film Institute in London from 17 July to 20 September, showcases all seven of Faithfull's attempts. He admits that his first "Escape Vehicles" – including a miniature rocket-powered chair and a boiler suit attached to 50 helium balloons – were "complete heroic failures, or actually not even heroic, more like damp squibs".

But this is his point – Faithfull is interested in the pathos inherent in so many human attempts to escape gravity. Flying is a common fascination for many of us, he says, but drawings of Victorian flying machines and the stories of Icarus, with his melting wax-based wings, and Franz Reichelt, the tailor who jumped to his death from the Eiffel Tower in 1912 to demonstrate his home-made parachute, seem simultaneously absurdly comic and pathetic.

link: Gravity sucks: An artist examines life's weighty side - science-in-society - 20 July 2009 - New Scientist


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