Flying Into Singapore
So sad. I had pulled out my box of Polaroids for a recent post on the drive out to Robert Smithson's Sprial Jetty, and I was reminded that part of my lived present has become a bit of the historical past. But unlike the steam-powered locomotives at Golden Spike National Monument, our ability to restore and preserve doesn't exist with modern-day dinosaur technologies like Polaroid film. When the last boxes of film disappear from eBay, the era will be officially over. Matthew Langley recently posted on the history of the product, and in the recent Artforum 500 words, Cathie Opie speaks about the medium:
How do we find truth in these images? That’s why I wanted to use Polaroid when taking photos of images on the television—Polaroid is the unmanipulated image in our day. Now it is the gone image; it’s become extinct.
Cathie's focus on history becomes one of the underlying themes in her conversation with Andrea Bowers, but perhaps that is a result of us all being of the same era, sharing a historical past as well as having been classmates at CalArts.
Nicholas Grider's recent post of new work came to mind when I pulled out these images posted here. Sometimes I'll start collecting stuff (chicken wishbones for example) with no end project in mind. What started on a return flight from Mexico City--a Polaroid taken out an airplane window--became an ongoing project carried out for a good eight years.
A Five-Hour JFK to LAX Sunset
In a way it reminds me of Cathie Opie's formalism, in that my photographic compositions are restricted by what seat I'm assigned to, what I'm flying in, and where I'm headed. What I'm left with is some compositional decisions in a narrow angle of view.
Check out the last two images to see how much is left to circumstances.
Over the years I've tried to reserve window seats whenever possible, and I try to alternate from one side of the plane to the other. Most trips result in two to four images, depending on the number of legs of the flight.
Eventually I'll incorporate these Polaroids into some yet-to-be-conceived project.
Wing Color Changes Due to Temperature
The end of an era.
For the crowd that looks at art, they are familiar images, and can evoke personal memories outside of my experience.
I remember flying into Los Angeles at night after living in Europe for close to a year. In the row behind me was a young boy watching the city lights. After looking out for close to twenty minutes--from San Bernardino to Inglewood--he turned to his mom and said, "The streets are so straight!"
This was after my presentation at the International AIDS Conference in Durban. It felt like I went through twenty years of emotions in nine days.
In the event of a water landing, the thin aluminum tube you're strapped into will shatter into millions of pieces. Think of the floating seat cushion as a surrogate teddy bear you can hug while you die.
I spent five years conducting workshops at health departments across California, which gave me a chance to fly many prop planes to places like Redding, Sacramento, Fresno, Eureka, and Reno.
Post 9-11 my fellow passengers brought their paranoia with their carry-ons, and I got reported to the flight attendant for my suspicious picture-taking activity. Because unlike tourists, terrorists take pictures.
Flying into Vegas after a few drinks.
Eventually I developed the technique where I'd hold the shutter button down, then lower the camera under a blanket before I lifted my finger. That way the clack and grind of the motor spitting out the film wouldn't attract so much attention.
February 9, 2009 will mark 40 years of 747s being built and flown, longer that most American have been alive.
No glass between me and the view!
It's amazing how little plane technology has changed: flaps and configurations have been around for generations. There was a proposal for a flying wing from Boeing, and in the past, commercial supersonic flight. Now it seems we've taken a step back in our application of new technologies.
The wings are canvas stretched over wood.
I like these last two images because they show how I can compose the relatively the same picture twice, but circumstances change the result.