Aesthetica Magazine - Philippe Braquenier

Aesthetica Magazine, April 1, 2021

Aesthetica Magazine celebrates it's 100th issue with a special edition. This issue contains writings about the magazine's path to become one of the world’s leading voices in contemporary art, and how it all started in a small northern city in England.

Special attention is dedicated to the spirit of independence, both of the magazine itself and the photographers contributing to it over the years. Also, the magazine pays attention to a new monograph published by Phaidon, called Living in Nature, and to the show Electrifying Design: A Century of Lighting, about the invention of the first electric light by British chemist Humphry Davy in 1808. Additionally, an article about Philippe Braquenier's "Eath Not A Globe" is included. 

 

“From high altitudes, or even from space, the true shape of the Earth can easily be seen. Its dimensions can be measured; its radius of curvature in all directions can be calculated; the imperfections and departures from sphericity are directly observable by our instruments. If you travel far enough away from Earth, you can observe an entire hemisphere at once, even watching the planet rotate on its axis in real time."


“At right around 12,700 kilometers (7,900 miles) in diameter, our world is undoubtedly a sphere. Of course, it actually is quite round: a near-perfect sphere, to better than 99% precision. If you leave Earth’s surface, it’s impossible not to see the true shape of the Earth, as it's been unavoidable since we first travelled high enough to observe our planet’s curvature.” (Ethan Siegel, Five Impossible Facts That Would Have to Be True if the Earth Were Flat, Forbes, 24 November 2017). Even still, there’s an increasing number of “flat-Earth” believers – those who think the Earth exists as a disk, drawing on beliefs from classical Greece, and the Bronze and Iron Ages. 

 

Philippe Braquenier (b. 1985) is a Belgian photographer fascinated by knowledge; intrigued by how it is collected, used, shared and stored. Braquenier’s practice encourages discourse about humanity’s obsession to deal with information – especially when data is becoming ever more omnipresent, yet all the more unseen. His latest series, Earth not a globe, is named after a volume written by one of the 19th century’s most extreme conspiracy theorists, Samuel Birley Rowbotham. The work explores communities who believe continents float on an endless ocean: the North Pole at the centre of the Earth, the sun and moon above the Earth. 

 

Jasper Bode, Director and co-founder of The Ravestijn Gallery, notes: “Conspiracy theories are increasingly popular thanks to social media. With the coronavirus, conspiracy theories have gained even more strength. These have lead people to believe that they are in possession of a secret that the all-powerful want to hide – and that the rest of the world is just too blind to see. It is interesting to see how conspiracists mix knowledge and supposition, science and belief, fact and fiction, to take only what serves their purpose, even if it means contradicting themselves. In an era of post-truth, this project poses a reflection on the conspiratorial power of images.” 

 

Philippe Braquenier: "With the coronavirus, conspiracy theories have gained even more strength. These have lead people to believe that they are in possession of a secret that the all-powerful want to hide – and that the rest of the world is just to blind to see.”  

 

Featured images centre around light, gravity, reflections and rotations, as well as propaganda vans, star trails, experiments in buoyancy and density, and rocket launches. The image at the right, Planes Help to Prove the Plane (2018), depicts pale pink corrugated iron suspended amongst a near-barren forest. A deep blue sky contains silvery strands stretching upwards, seducing the viewer through its science. Bode concludes: “You could describe Braquenier’s work as aesthetically pleasing documentary – that helps the audience to question conspiracy mechanisms at work in society today.”