Curvature | 2012
Curvature (an ode to the window seat and Isamu Noguchi’s Sky Above 1988) is a medium-scale hanging installation of 16 photographs made during commercial flights from Chicago to eleven other destinations between June 2010 and September 2012. Each photograph is printed on clear acetate. A piece of translucent drafting film containing a life size silhouette of an oval airplane window in gold leaf hangs back to back with each photograph.
I have incorporated the bird’s-eye view in previous bodies of work (The Quench Tank, 2005 and Aporia, 2000-2006) but it wasn’t until 2007 that I actively began photographing from the sky. At the time, I was working for an architectural photography studio frequently flying across country on assignment. I clocked many hours looking out airplane windows while thinking about floor plans, the man-made ordering of space and the usage of light to describe materials and volume. Today, I continue to photograph from both commercial and privately chartered flights. The window seat is as much an anticipated destination as the city to which I’m bound.
The world’s first commercial jet aircraft, the de Havilland Comet, took flight in 1949. Unfortunately it frequently crashed, killing passengers aboard. Within a couple years engineers realized the structural integrity of the aircraft’s body was severely compromised under high altitude pressure due, in part, to cracks forming in the corners of the aircraft’s square windows. Jetliners were redesigned with smaller, oval windows allowing stress to distribute along curved edges rather than becoming caught in right angles.
Later in his life, master sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi created works relating to portals, energy voids and the sky. The same year Noguchi died he created a small bronze sculpture called Sky Above, 1988 (edition of 8). The sculpture is a flat oval, oriented vertically on an x-/y-axis armature. The top half of the oval is highly polished and angled slightly back. The bottom half is perpendicular to the ground and not polished. The sculpture is a meditation on the relationship between earth and sky.
Curvature indirectly pays homage to the critical design of airplane windows and the inspired sculpture of 20th century artist Isamu Noguchi. More broadly, the piece draws attention to landscape, rhythm and perspective.
Curvature is available for purchase, exhibition or temporary installation.
- Kate Joyce 2012