What does it mean to enter an unknown landscape, or even to imagine the unseen? How do we navigate this bizarre and fascinating world without immediately fetishizing our distant unrealizable desire? In our contribution Volcanic Features of Hawaii, A Basis for Comparison with Mars, we begin with the idea of the book as latent time capsule, discovered by Martians as a template for experience by understanding the interplanetary tourist as an observer, spectator, and willful participant. Our project promises a linkage between two worlds. The visual bridge made between Mars and Hawaii is both fantastic and fictitious, but by projecting ourselves into the uncharted space of cultural myth, a new landscape emerges.
In this sense our evoking of Hawaii in an empty Chicago backyard plot is just as absurd as evoking Mars in Hawaii. In Stacee Kalmanovsky’s painting, Preserving the Unreal, she explores the materiality of surface and its possibility for fantasy through the lure of color, glitter, and movement. I serves as interlocutor of the transitional terrain by greeting and inciting the viewer to re-imagine the backyard location as their own private Martian or Hawaiian landscape. Projected color slides from a typical tourist jaunt to Hawaii in 1982, complete with accompanying script, become the basis for cultural representation and explorations of that “other part of America” for Shane Ward. Rachel Ellison uses the map as a tool to help the viewer navigate this seemingly disparate topography, as it aids in orienting oneself in the reality and fantasy of place. Overall playful, but sincere, we pose a critical inquiry through enjoying the absurdity of a Martian luau, while encouraging the viewer to come with their skepticism at hand, yet leave enthralled.