Earthscapes. United States Postal Service (2012)
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This is the first of three posts about postage.
The U. S. Postal Service, as part of National Stamp Month, issued a series of Forever stamps entitled Earthscapes. Three rows of five are displayed in the stamp pane seen above. Here’s the aesthetic big picture from the USPS publicity page:
The Earthscapes Forever stamps allow customers an opportunity to see the world in a new way. This stamp pane presents examples of three categories of earthscapes: natural, agricultural, and urban. The photographs were all created high above the planet’s surface, either snapped by “eyes in the sky” — satellites orbiting the Earth — or carefully composed by photographers in aircraft.
As always, for readers of this blog, the axiomatic fractal aspects of these aerial views are the central concern. I believe these stunning shots not only decidedly make the cut for high and snooty art, but also, for fractal art enthusiasts, must be considered just the coolest stamps ever.
I thought it best to look at the stamps in the order they appear on the pane. Originally, I’d planned to write about all three rows in one post but came to quietly realize each row deserved a separate blog entry.
Row One: Natural Earthscapes
Glacier and Icebergs
In the top row, we have a window seat for selected renders from America’s dazzling wilderness. The Alaskan glacier above, described as a "conveyer belt of ice" on the USPS page, looks more to me like partly a highway but mostly a bird wing. The fractal feathering can be seen covering the lower right of the "wing" and even seems blasted by uttermost force into the surrounding land forms. The scattered icebergs resemble glass shards. The ensemble reminds me of a planetary ring that was either destroyed or that collapsed into numerous satellite particles trapped within a gravitational field.
Notice the dividing line in the lower left where the mountain range splits into tributary and peak/crater forms. Although we know the large blue area to be water, the blue field also suggests the sky and even the expanse of outer space where larger icebergs are asteroids and smaller ones are stars.
We are looking at some seriously hard raw material here. Intemperate rock and desiccated lava. Yet the image is surprisingly floral with the texture of an impressionistic oil painting of a moonflower. The green landscape takes on a resemblance to background vegetation. Or is this image a representation of the world’s worst beer foam spill? No hazmat suits will be needed to clean up this disaster. Just enough volunteers who have that common Western bar malady of "a powerful thirst."
And, for fresh insights, save this image and turn it upside down (180 degrees). Behold fresh revelations. Is it a religious commission capturing something like The Pentecost of Gill Man or a rare glimpse of the not-yet-seen Lord of Light from HBO’s Game of Thrones?
I’ve seen similar formal structures to these render up in fractal software I used in the early 1990s. This has a watercolor feel everywhere except for the fluidity of the spring pool. It’s ironic that the spring looks more circumscribed by flowing lava than does the volcano. A face shape finger-painted with fire. And do I see the white blind bottom-feeding eyes of a murderous catfish deep in the upper blue waters?
Or maybe the old gods should not be mocked. This is the face of Poseidon.
Or, if not the face, then maybe…
Butte in Early Morning Fog
Seldom has space been so decisively divided. On the left are fractal clouds desiring to touch the earth. On the right is sea blue void. The left space is obscured and wispy and damp. The right space is all crystal nothing. The grandest natural "Great Wall" tears the "canvas" in half. A scar on a mountain. Castle remnants. The broken crown of Odin.
The left wall is erased — chipped at by time and now marred with holes. The right is enhanced by shadowy snow — used here as texture.
A preponderance of moss and mold saturate this entire field. Marsh patterns do indeed seem as snake-like as river formations. This image is a feast for admirers of fractal coastlines where matter molecules combined to form uneven structures. What, apparently, looks so inviting and comfy to a duck might strike human beings as a staph infection waiting to happen. Or could this be a panorama of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as seen by a drone’s eyes?
Up next in the series: Agricultural Earthscapes.