Monday, May 23, 2011

Under the Moons of Mars

Bellona by Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick

I have long been a fan of planetary romances. The idea of ancient alien civilizations upon distant planets has captured my imagination. I've often considered writing within the genre, but I worry that I'd end up writing some imitative tripe, a Barsoom rip-off. To a degree, the entire subgenre can be described as a reiteration upon the themes that Edgar Rice Burroughs set forth in the novel A Princess of Mars.

A good planetary romance explores the concept of "civilization" by constructing alien societies and assessing them through a narrative with which the reader can closely identify. So ideas, such as decadence, patriotism, isolationism or exploitation, are integral elements of the subgenre. Yet, while these ideas play across the narrative, it is under an atmospheric mood of loneliness and yearning. The narrator is a "stranger in a strange land".

And it is the ability to capture this mood that I find so compelling in the Kopeikin Gallery's exhibit "Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea. Desolation and the Sublime on a Distant Planet" by Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick.

Earthrise by Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick

I've selected images from the show that focus on the individuals, but there are plenty of photos that feature ancient structures, awesome terrains, and bizarre technologies. The reason why I'm focusing on the "people" is because it is through their experiences that we as readers or viewers gain a vicarious sense of being in such weird environs. The individuals are our focal point, our empathic portal, to the otherworldly experience.

And to loneliness. It reminds me of this song:

For me, the enduring charm of the Planetary Romance is that underneath the grand exploration of the "Alien" and broad ruminations on the nature of civilization there is a personal story of being "out of place" and "missing" something. Only through the ceaseless journey into mystery can one hope to find their fulfillment.

And that's how I feel when I look at these photographs by Kahn and Selesnick. I highly recommend checking them out yourself.

Constellation Matrix by Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick

Here's a link to Kopeikin Gallery.

Here's the Kahn & Selesnick website.

Here's the Planetary Romance Wikipedia page.

And here's the Wikipedia page for Edgar Rice Borroughs.

And the Church's Wikipedia page.


No comments:

Post a Comment