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Curiosities: Photographs of Mount St. Helens Erupting

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On May 18, 1980 Mount St. Helens erupted, becoming the first major volcanic eruption in the States since 1915. Keith Stoffel was attending the Yakima Gem and Mineral Show as a representative of the Division of Geology and Earth Resources for the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WA DNR). He and his wife Dorothy charted a plane that day with pilot Bruce Judson, unknowing of what was to come. From their vantage point they watched the volcano erupt, narrowly escaping thanks to the efforts of Judson. They captured a few photographs (including the one above) and Keith later summarized what he saw in a WA DNR paper (PDF):

Within a matter of seconds, perhaps 15 seconds, the whole north side of the summit crater began to move instantaneously. As we were looking directly down on the summit crater, everything north of a line drawn east-west across the northern side of the summit crater began to move as one gigantic mass. The nature of movement was eerie, like nothing we had ever seen before. The entire mass began to ripple and churn up, without moving laterally. Then the entire north side of the summit began sliding to the north along a deep-seated slide plane. I was amazed and excited with the realization that we were watching this landslide of unbelievable proportions slide down the north side of the mountain toward Spirit Lake. We took pictures of this slide sequence occurring, but before we could snap off more than a few pictures, a huge explosion blasted out of the detachment plane. We neither felt nor heard a thing, even though we were just east of the summit at this time. Dorothy saw the southern portion of the summit crater begin to crumble and slide to the north just after the initial explosion.

From our viewpoint, the initial cloud appeared to mushroom laterally to the north and plunge down. Within seconds, the cloud had mushroomed enough to obscure our view. At about this time, the realization of the enormous size of the eruption hit us, and we focused our attention on getting out of there.

They were not the only plane in the sky that day. A private plane flown by a former fighter pilot had been divereted to Seattle with his family, on return from vacation. In no apparent danger, he flew near the eruption and captured these photographs. His Grandson recently shared them (r/pics), but doesn’t have all the details of the day at the present.

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Observed: Eric Lacombe

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Graphic designer and artist Eric Lacombe’s work focuses on the melancholy that goes along with feelings of fear, anxiety and sadness. Something about his style reminds me of Stephen Gammell’s illustrations for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but Lacombe’s work is decidedly different. His portraits are dark and rich, and have depth and feel dimensional. The dour-looking subjects of his latest exhibition, The Weight of Silence, are tormented hybrids and creatures dealing with the, ” indefinable perceptions anticipating death.” It is currently on view at the Last Rites Gallery in NYC until the 16th of April.

Observed: Noémie Goudal

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Noémie Goudal has created a strange mix of fiction and reality in her photographs. Some are hand-made objects while others are digitally manipulated structures from real photographs that she prints. Goudal doesn’t hide these fabrications, and on study and inspection they stare at you. Even though you can see the deceptions, they are based in reality. Perception is a funny thing sometimes.

Experiments and Curiosities I

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Analog Distortion

Fifty Weeks of Work: Machines in Space

Growing up in a suburb of Houston, so close to Space Ceneter and Ellington Field, it was nearly impossible not to have an interest in space and NASA. To go from watching shuttle launches on TV to being connected to astronauts on Instagram and other online platforms has been such a curious and wonderful thing.

Steven has done these kinds of typologies before, but this series of illustrated NASA satellites feels fitting…machines in space. You can follow along here, or on his Instagram.

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Week II
Cygnus Orbital-1
NASA / Oribital Sciences

Marking the first private spacecraft to resupply ISS, Cygnus Oribital-1 launched on the Antares rocket from a facility in Virginia. It delivered 1,300 lbs. of non-critical gear, was loaded with trash and was relaunched and burned up over the Pacific Ocean.

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Week I
Voyager I & II
NASA / JPL

Voyager I and II were twin spacecraft whose primary mission was the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn. Among other discoveries, they found active volcanoes on a moon of Jupiter, and the details of Saturn’s rings. Voyager II continued on to Uranus and Neptune, the only craft to visit those planets. (NASA)