Gallery Openings and Events

Arlington Arts Presents Babel: A Full Dome Projection by Kelley Bell at David M. Brown Planetarium

Photo courtesy of Arlington Arts.

Photo courtesy of Arlington Arts.

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Events: Friday, May 19 6:30pm through Sunday, May 21 3pm (multiple-screenings)

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In this convergence of archival imagery and animation, Arlington Arts in partnership with the Friends of the David M. Brown Planetarium present Babel: A Full Dome Projection by Kelley Bell, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 19 – 21, 2017, with multiple screenings occurring throughout the weekend. The event is FREE, but patrons are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance through Eventbrite. High-resolution images are available upon request.

Babel is an animated video by Baltimore City artist Kelley Bell. The soundtrack features the song “Many Horses” from For Stars and Atoms, an album by the excellent band Yeveto. Babel takes advantage of David M. Brown Planetarium’s domed ceiling to present a 5-minute tour of the iconic structures and institutions that boast this architectural feature, placing viewers beneath the oculus at Rome’s Pantheon; gazing up at the gorgeous lattices of Tilla Kari Madrasa in Uzbekistan, and our own nation’s Capitol Building, to name a few.

The dome is an architectural feature that is common to a wide variety of social spaces. Its strength derives from the natural forces of gravity and tension, with each tier held in place by force exerted from above while supported by the one below. Though this mutual support, these hemispheres of stone, brick and iron are capable of enclosing vast amounts of open space, unoccluded by columns or other supports. One of the first achievements of architectural engineering, domes appear in almost every culture, across every age, and serving a diversity of functions.

In Babel, the artist stacks the different rings of these domes like children’s toys, aspiring to build a towering edifice, one atop the other. The domes, however, 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, 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. Rejecting a monolithic, homogenized absolute, Babel represents a unity that does not subsume social and cultural difference, but builds on the strength of all its constituent parts. In Babel the sacred, secular, commercial and political work in concert to realize the best of all possible worlds, all at once.

Kelley Bell holds an MFA from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in Imaging and Digital Arts, and a BFA in Graphic Design from Pratt Institute. Her animations have been screened locally and as far away as Zagreb, Croatia. Screenings include the Visionary Arts Museum, the Annapolis Film Festival, The Transmodern Arts Festival, and the University of Maryland College Park. She was a recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in 2004, and 2013, a semifinalist for the Sondheim Art Prize in 2010 and 2011, and a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artistic Innovation And Collaboration Grant in 2013. Never one to think small, her large-scale public projections have appeared in numerous festivals like the InLight Festival in Richmond, Virginia, the Lumen Festival in Staten Island, New York and the Northern Spark Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Animafest Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia. Her projection series, The Clock Strikes 100, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Baltimore, Maryland’s BromoSeltzer Tower was named Best Public Art Project by Baltimore Magazine in 2011. She is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Visual Arts Department at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The David M. Brown Planetarium is located at 1426 N. Quincy St., Arlington, VA. For more information, call (703) 228-1850 or visit arlingtonarts.org.