Kelley Bell, associate professor and associate chair of visual arts, will display a new work, Babel, from Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21 at the David M. Brown Planetarium in Arlington, Virginia. The commission of the work was supported by the Friends of the David M. Brown Planetarium.
Utilizing archival imagery and animation, Babel takes advantage of the planetarium’s concave ceiling to present a projected 5-minute tour of iconic domes from around the world. Visitors find themselves beneath the oculus of Rome’s Pantheon, gaze up at the rotunda of the United States Capitol, scan the gorgeous lattices of Tilla Kari Madrasa in Uzbekistan, and take in other historic locations.
Bell ’06 M.F.A., intermedia and digital arts, stacks the different rings of these domes like children’s toys, aspiring to build a towering edifice, one atop the other. As seen in the video excerpt below, the domes spin in consecutive circles, and each level erodes and supplants the next in a futile architectural battle royale spanning centuries, geography and ideologies.
“As the Tower of Babel presents an allegorical origin of cultural difference,” explains Bell, “Babel suggests that an ideal monument is one that brings together all ideals—faith, pleasure, beauty, industry—that the balance and tension of these paradigmatic forces allows them to coexist while supporting one another naturally, like tiers of stones stacked to form a domed ceiling.”
Admission to Babel is free, but tickets are required and can be obtained through Eventbrite here. Bell will discuss her artwork after the viewings on Friday, May 19 at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., and on Saturday, May 20, at 7:00 p.m. She will also talk about Babel on WERA radio (96.7, Arlington, Virginia) on Thursday, May 18, at 8 a.m.
After the showing of Babel at the David M. Brown Planetarium, Bell will fly to Zagreb, Croatia, for Animafest Zagreb, which will feature her forthcoming work Carnival Love Wall.