You know how the horizon makes a more or less straight line across every landscape? I saw a series of art photos of glaciers last night by Caleb Cain Marcus at the National Academy of Sciences that buck the convention. Although he’s shooting landscapes, Marcus messes around with the composition of his photographs so that he eliminates the horizon – you just get craggy bits of ice and then a big expanse of sky. As the NAS blurb about the show expresses it: “Freed from the horizon, a sense of scale is lost, altering one’s experience of a landscape. It is in this unfamiliar territory that Cain Marcus hopes viewers can fully experience the persona of ice.”
But here’s the weird thing: I saw this artwork just a few days after watching Cosmos, the episode where Neil DeGrasse Tyson pointed out that, because we’re on a round planet spinning through a constantly moving universe, that line that we see as the horizon isn’t actually there. The line is a lie.
So, in making his pictures of glaciers more abstract by eliminating the horizon, Marcus is actually making them more real. And I think I just blew my own mind.
You can see the show at NAS through July 18 or see more images on Marcus’ website.
Sorry kitties, that’s not quite how it happened. Luckily, we’ll get a refresher on the origins of the universe when the reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic Cosmos series kicks off on March 9, with new host Neil DeGrasse Tyson. In the meantime, you can read this terrific article by Joel Achenbach in Smithsonian Magazine about Sagan’s impact and legacy.