Last week, a new exhibition by the artist duo Anderson & Low opened at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York. Known for blending fact and fiction, their latest project, Voyages, transforms ship models owned by the Science Museum in London into evocative and ambitious images.
When the artists discovered the ships in storage, they were struck by how ghostly and dreamlike the vintage models appeared wrapped in the translucent plastic meant to protect them. Through the simple act of not removing the plastic before photographing the ships, the humble objects become vessels of exploration and otherworldly voyages. “The models,” explain Anderson & Low in the artist statement, “take on magical new forms, some like legendary vessels emerging from sinister fogs to stalk and surprise an enemy, others as if lost and drifting at sea…or caught in a terrifying storm.”
Indeed the plastic acts as a prism, reassembling scale and context while highlighting some details and obscuring others. The misty haze covering the historic boats “suggests the thrill and anticipation of embarking on a new adventure,” muses George Eastman Museum in the press release. Looking at the images, legends of ancient mariners come to mind; it’s not difficult to conjure the feel of wet fog against ruddy cheeks and the haunting ring of buoy bells in the harbor.
Voyages also includes images selected by Anderson & Low from the Eastman Museum Collection that resonate with their work. In the artists’ words, the common theme binding all the photographs on display is that, “Making true voyages of discovery does not mean seeking new landscapes, but using one’s own imagination to view the world through new eyes.”