Science and technology meet art and beauty in exhibition tracing the history of aerial photography

Image credit: Chen Ming, 200 feet above Grand Park, 2016. Inkjet digital print. Courtesy of the artist

October 10, 2019–March 8, 2020

Forest Lawn Museum, Forest Lawn–Glendale


GLENDALE, CAThe Elevated Eye: Aerial Photography Past and Present examines the history of aerial photography, from its origins in the nineteenth century to the boundary-pushing technologies of the twenty-first century. While the exhibition highlights a number of stunning locations around the world, many of the images focus on Los Angeles and Southern California, revealing how the region has developed over the course of more than a century. The Elevated Eye traces the parallel developments of flight and photography as well as the intersections of art and technology, illustrating how a simple change in perspective transforms the familiar into the spectacular.

On view in the newly remodeled Forest Lawn Museum at Forest Lawn—Glendale from October 10, 2019 through March 8, 2020, the exhibition assembles nearly 150 images and 14 minutes of video, as well as satellite models and drones. It includes photographs from Forest Lawn Museum’s permanent collection that have never been displayed as well as works from the Getty Research Institute; Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens; and the Special Collections of Los Angeles Public Library. The exhibition is Forest Lawn Museum Director James Fishburne’s inaugural exhibition in the space and encompasses two of the museum’s three galleries.

The Elevated Eye: Aerial Photography Past and Present looks at the full span of aerial photography, beginning with the balloonists in Europe and the United States who pioneered the field as well as early alternatives to hot air balloons, including cameras attached to pigeons and kites. The exhibition features a reproduction of the oldest surviving aerial photograph, which was taken above Boston in 1860. Images of early Los Angeles—including the oldest surviving aerial view of the city, which dates to 1887, and aerial photographs from Forest Lawn Museum’s collection that date back nearly 100 years—show the transformation of Los Angeles, Forest Lawn, and the city of Glendale as they developed from semi-rural areas into parts of a dense urban fabric.

During the second half of the twentieth century, photography was an important part of the Space Race as cameras were used to document the movement beyond the stratosphere. The Elevated Eye includes early NASA images from the Apollo missions of the 1960s and later images from the International Space Station, as well as the work of Erwan Rivault, a French geographer who uses open access data from European Space Agency satellites to create stunning images of natural wonders on the Earth’s surface. A model of the International Space Station from the Columbia Memorial Space Center, a “CubeSat” satellite from Interorbital Systems, and camera-equipped drones will allow visitors to better understand the technology used to help create remarkable aerial images of the past, present, and future.

Drones have risen to the forefront of contemporary aerial photography, and the exhibition will feature more than twenty drone images as well as mesmerizing video footage by Chen Ming. The prominent drone pilot and photographer maneuvers above cities and beside buildings to reach places that are inaccessible to other aerial vehicles. Through strict vertical angles and tight framing of images, he deconstructs the architectural and civic spaces of Los Angeles and offers rare and intriguing perspectives of American and international monuments.

Though often used for technical and scientific purposes, a number of fine artists also use aerial photography. Four large-format images by David Maisel—a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow in the Creative Arts—depict aerial views of Los Angeles printed as negatives. They present an eerie yet familiar interpretation of the city’s urban sprawl, which offers a stark contrast to the historical images of undeveloped Los Angeles elsewhere in the exhibition. Sixty-five images from Lane Barden’s Linear City series trace Los Angeles’s major corridors in a cinematic journey that carries viewers through the metropolis. And collages by multi-disciplinary artist and writer Jenny Odell cluster Google Satellite Views of enormous structures and place them into collections of common objects, resulting in artworks that offer a truly unique approach to aerial photography and prompt viewers to contemplate the infinite nature of both the internet and the universe.

The Elevated Eye showcases a broad range of photography and technology. It captures the wonder inspired by art and science and their intersections,” says James Fishburne, PhD, Forest Lawn Museum Director and curator of the exhibition. “By bringing never-before exhibited photographs together with works from preeminent Los Angeles collections, the exhibition gives a new perspective to the diverse and ever-evolving landscape that makes up Southern California, as a center for both art and technology.”

The Elevated Eye is curated by Forest Lawn Museum’s Director, James Fishburne. Fishburne joined Forest Lawn in fall of 2018. He earned his PhD in Italian Renaissance art history from UCLA, and in 2017, he completed a two-year appointment at the Getty Research Institute. Prior to graduate school, he served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy. He has taught at UCLA, Cal State Long Beach, Pierce College, and Valley College. He has curated exhibitions of prints and drawings at the Huntington Art Gallery in San Marino, California.

“Forest Lawn is thrilled to reopen the newly remodeled Forest Lawn Museum with our new director James Fishburne’s inaugural exhibition in the space,” says Rodolfo Saenz, Forest Lawn’s Senior Vice President, Marketing. “Making art a part of life has been at the core of Forest Lawn’s mission since the beginning, and with a new vantage point from which to view the landscape we call home, we find exciting ways to explore the artistic aspects of the memorial park and the greater Southern California area.”

The Elevated Eye brings together some of the most captivating work from Southern California’s premiere collections and invites visitors to discover how science and technology are utilized to create art and beauty. With diverse content focused on a single theme, the exhibition will capture the imaginations of viewers young and old.

The Elevated Eye: Aerial Photography Past and Present is open October 10, 2019–March 8, 2020 at Forest Lawn Museum. There will be a public opening reception on October 10, from 5:00 PM–8:00 PM with a special guest speaker. Guests are invited to RSVP to the opening to [email protected]. The exhibition is on view at Forest Lawn Museum, Forest Lawn—Glendale, 1712 S. Glendale Blvd., Glendale, CA 91205. The Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission and parking are FREE. Please note, Forest Lawn Museum is closed for remodel until October 10, 2019. Call 323.340.4545 or visit for details and program information.

Image credits (left to right): Spence Airplane Photos, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, 1925 (taken on July 16, 1925). Photograph, 16 x 20 inches. Forest Lawn Museum Permanent Collection; Jenny Odell, 206 Circular Farms, 2011. Inkjet digital print, 24 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Free docent-led tours of The Elevated Eye will be offered every Saturday from October 12, 2019 through March 7, 2020.

Director’s Tours led by Forest Lawn Museum Director James Fishburne will be held at 11:00 AM on the first Sunday of each month. These 45-minute tours are followed by a Q&A.

For information about tours in Spanish, please email [email protected].

Museum visiting hours: Tuesday–Sunday from 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

Hall of Crucifixion-Resurrection hours: Tuesday–Sunday from 10:00 AM–4:30 PM, with 25-minute presentations available at 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM (in Spanish), 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:00 PM, and 4:00 PM

Great Mausoleum visiting hours: Daily from 9:30 AM–4:30 PM

Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day

Admission and parking to Forest Lawn Museum, Hall of Crucifixion-Resurrection, and Great Mausoleum are FREE.

For more information, please call 323.340.4545, email [email protected], or visit

Forest Lawn Museum first opened in 1952 and is now is comprised of three galleries and a gift shop as well as a renowned permanent collection of statuary, stained glass windows, mosaics, and architecture that is spread across Forest Lawn’s six Southern California locations. Forest Lawn’s founder, Dr. Hubert Eaton, wrote in his Builder’s Creed that our park should be “a place where artists study and sketch; where school teachers bring happy children to see the things they read of in books.” In that spirit, selections of Forest Lawn Museum’s permanent collection of photographs, paintings, and bronze and marble statues by a range of nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and American artists are on display in the museum’s front gallery. The museum typically dedicates two galleries to world-class rotating exhibits, which focus on topics ranging from the FIFA World Cup to the art of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Forest Lawn Museum is located adjacent to the Hall of Crucifixion-Resurrection, which houses The Crucifixion, a 195-foot wide by 45-foot high painting by Polish artist Jan Styka, and The Resurrection, a painting by American artist Robert Clark. Other notable pieces in Forest Lawn’s collection can be found in the Great Mausoleum, including the Last Supper stained glass window by artist Rosa Casselli-Moretti, the Poet’s Windows, and marble replicas of Michelangelo’s Moses and Pieta.

Founded in 1906, Forest Lawn has been a Southern California landmark for more than a century. With rolling hills, sweeping landscapes and a magnificent view of the Los Angeles skyline, Forest Lawn–Glendale is one of Forest Lawn’s most picturesque locations. It features a world-renowned art museum, extraordinary statuary and the Hall of the Crucifixion-Resurrection, home to Jan Styka’s immense painting, The Crucifixion, and Robert Clark’s Resurrection, two of the largest religious paintings in the western hemisphere.

For more than a century, Forest Lawn has been an integral part of Southern California. Since its founding, Forest Lawn has committed itself to providing outstanding service and beautiful environments for family outings, remembering loved ones and commemorating holidays. Forest Lawn’s locations in the Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties serve all faiths and cultures, and offer a wide range of celebrations and special events with competitively priced cremation and traditional funeral services throughout Southern California. Glendale – FD 656