As for many baby boomers, the Apollo moon landing made a huge impression on young Bill Finger, as he now notes in his artist statement for Ground Control. The Curiosity rover on Mars today is a small feat compared to that great miracle conveyed back in the day of three- network, black-and-white TV images beamed into our astonished suburban living rooms. Finger is a photographer who shoots small domestic dioramas, only his bear mysterious traces of moondust—an astronaut clambers into the attic, a muddy forest trail bears the imprint of a moon boot, and tiny rockets stand at the ready for blastoff. All these images would've been perfect for the World's Fair–commemorating Skyward! exhibit just seen at Bumbershoot, since Finger is similarly recalling those retro-futuristic dreams: the space race, JFK, and flying cars parked in the driveway. Space exploration is today the less-heroic domain of robots. Instead of Neil Armstrong, we have WALL-E, Curiosity, and R2-D2. Astronauts were once like gods to us. Now they've been shrunk to the size of G.I. Joe dolls. Space has somehow been reduced and desanctified. Finger's nostalgic little vignettes are thus both playful and slightly sad. The promise of manned space travel now seems as distant as the stars themselves.
Punch Gallery, 119 Prefontaine Place S. (Tashiro Kaplan Building), 621-1945, punchgallery.org. Free. noon-5 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Sept. 29.